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THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 




THE LONG LANE 



BY 

ETHEL COXON 

AUTHOR OP 'A BASIL PLANT' 'MONSIEUR LOVE' ETC. 



Our acts our angels are, or goorl or ill, 
Our fatal shadows that walk by us still' 



IN TWO VOLUMES 

VOL. I. 




LONDON 

RICHARD BENTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON STREET 

,^«blis^ers in ©rbinarjr to ^tr Pajtstg the ^mtn 

1886 



All rights reserved 



PRINTED BY 

SPOTTISWOODE AND CO., NEW-STREET SQUARE 

LONDON 



V, I 



AD HELENAM 

1880— 188G 




B5)flSL 



THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTEE I. 

' Marry, sir, I am helping you to mar what God made ; 
a poor unhappy brother of yours, with idleness.' 

As You Like It. 

' Yes, sir, you will be very comfortable 
at Lynion. It's a small inn, but Mrs. Fall 
is a nice woman, and will see you have 
everything right. Yes, Mr. Nugent.' 

So in the sad minor that belongs 
to all Cornish folk, as through long at- 
tuning to the sob of the sea, the wail 
of the wind, spoke the landlady of the 
inn at Carnwith, a small fishing village 

VOL, I. B 



2 THE LOXG LANE 

on the Cornwall coast, to her one guest, 
a young man of about thirty-two, with 
a keen, handsome brown face and well-set 
figure, ready for a walking excursion of 
some length ; knickerbocker suit, knap- 
sack on back, and sketching tools under 
arm. 

'You've spoilt me, I'm afraid, Mrs. 
Blencowe,' he returned, fiinging away 
]iis cigarette end over the pahng of the 
rough little terrace outside the house, 
and leaning on the rail tliereof. ' You 
don't think we shall have rain ? ' 

' Rain ? No, sir ; I'm not much at 
weather-telling, but I don't think it will 
rain awhile yet.' 

Nugent looked out at the little cove, 
in which the village nestled against the 



THE LONG LANE 3 



orchards and corn-fields running up tlie 
valley, behind the inn and score of 
cottages which made up the sum of 
Carnwith. Everything was clear in the 
sunlight of this first summer day — summer 
before its time, for the end of May was 
not yet. The dull red of the serpentine 
cliffs took a richer depth against the dazzle 
of the waves ; the cottages built on the 
steep slope leading up by a winding patli 
to the brow of the cliff stood out white 
or softer grey from the fields behind, 
whose green sky-line cut sharply tlie 
blue above, scarcely softened by tlie 
ragged row of trees, all levelled at the top, 
as by a knife, and bent towards the east ; 
their strange stunting speaking, like the 
voices of the people, of stormy winds rush- 

B 2 



THE LOXG LAXE 



ing across the table-land from tlie wide 
Atlantic — a continual memory, even in 
softest summer, of bleakness and struggle. 
There was no other hint to-day in 
the scene of anything but glad spring; 
over the grey-green of the distant head- 
lands the long sweeps of sun and shadow 
chased each other, deepening and softening 
the forms of the coast ; and the sea was 
clear as a new-washed beryl, with the 
licrht blown over it in driftin*^ sheets of 
silver. Nugent was very much inclined 
to stay where he was, and give up his 
proposed tramp to Lynion, at least for to- 
day. But when a man is free to follow 
his own will, he has a certain shame in 
changing it ; so, after a pause of indecision, 
he said — 

'I sliall go. You'll expect me when 



THE LONG LAXE 



you see me, Mrs. Blencowe ; some time to- 
morrow, I suj)pose.' 

'Hadn't you best have a little lunch 
first, sir ? ' put in his hostess nervously and 
suggestively. ' There's scarce a house be- 
tween this and Lynion, and it's a matter 
of fourteen miles.' 

' Thank you, it's not a bad idea, though 
I've hardly forgotten breakfast yet.' 

Mrs. Blencowe was content with this 
half-permission, and in ten minutes Nugent 
was summoned to his repast, surprised to 
find how his appetite revived at the sight 
of lobster, cold sirloin, and the golden 
crescent of an omelette, brought in witli 
the pride of a true artist by the hostess 
herself. She uncorked his bottle of Bass, 
and then, by the aid of knives, forks, and 
spoons, diverted from their rightful uses 



6 THE LONG LANE 

to those of topography, endeavoured, in 
answer to his questions, to give him some 
idea of his way across the waste moorland 
which spread over the table-land between 
Carnwith and Lynion. 

' You'll take the St, Osyth road, sir, at 
the top of the hill, till you come to a place 
where tliree paths start out so ' — placing 
forks in illustration ; ' and wlien they 
separate again, so ' — here two spoons were 
set at right angles to each other, and so on, 
till a winding array of table implements 
joined together stopped short at the edge 
of the table, leaving Nugent far more 
puzzled than before. 

' There, sir, you're sure you see your 
way now, but whatever you do, don't come 
back across the heath after dark, for fear 
of the old shafts.' 



THE LOXG LAXE 7 

Nugent looked up a little startled. ' I 
didn't know there were any mines about 
here.' 

' No more there are ; not that have 
been worked, as folk can tell of ; but the 
old shafts, part of the country about 
Lynion, are thick as rabbit- holes, and it's 
easy enough to stray, even for people who 
know the road. I never like to think how 
many may have met their death in the 
dark that way, and no one know of it till 
the judgment.' 

Mrs. Blencowe was a pale, thin woman, 
with a melancholy, quiet face and eyes 
which always looked scared. Now, as her 
fancy called up the horror her monotonous 
voice told of, her gaze grew Avide as with 
its vision — the confused straying across the 
black moors under the moonless sky, the 



8 THE LONG LANE 

stumbling steps in the tall, tangled heather, 
tlie slip, and then the clutch and grasp for 
life at the edge of the shaft, or the sudden 
step over, and then the one shriek hurtling 
up through the silence and thick darkness 
of the pit. 

' I'll take care,' the young man answered 
after a short pause. ' I suppose it's all 
right by day. Well' — as he took his 
sketching-easel, folded up into the form of 
a staff — ' good-bye again.' 

The way lay inland, up the valley, past 
the orchards, which were as one rough sea 
of rose-white foam, and the corn-fields, 
where the wheat was yet thin and green. 
Down below, from where a tiny stream 
lauglied on its way to the sea, came 
tlie cry of a cuckoo from amongst trees, 
deep-boughed and tliick with leaves, in 



THE LOXG LAXE. 9 

sharp contrast to their brethren on the 
hill-top, whose maimed life was the out- 
come of constant resistance to a power 
from which they had no shelter, and which 
had robbed them alike of beauty, joy, and 
use. 

Yet even they would have been a relief 
in the landscape which faced Nugent, at 
the turn of the road, where it led across 
the moors. There was yet no hint of the 
purple glory of the heather mingled with 
paler hues, as delicate as those of a pearly 
shell, in the dry blossoms of last year, that 
had endured all the storms of the winter, 
and still rustled brown and dead on their 
stems, lending a livid tint to the heath, 
except where the gorse spread in a sheet 
of green and gold, as gorgeous as a Paul 
Veronese brocade. Here and there, in the 



10 THE LONG LAXE 

distance, could be seen a grey stone cottage 
or hut, but even these disappeared, and all 
around the young man was the wide moor- 
land, so lonely, it would have been sad but 
for tlie blue gladness of the sky, the free 
salt breeze, the ecstasy of a mounting lark. 
As it was, the sun and air and shining 
sea, of which Nugent caught glimpses 
every now and then, exhilarated the 
senses, and his steps grew longer, his 
feeling of enjoyment keener, as the miles 
of heath spread between himself and 
Carnwith. 

He had been in Cornwall more than 
three weeks, wandering as he would from 
place to place, and well content with the 
impulse wliich had led him to forsake 
town early in May for the purpose of a 
month's energetic sketching, an intention 



THE LOXG LANE 11 

which had been better fulfilled than such 
resolves on Nugent's part always were. 
Had he been poor, he might have done 
much as a painter ; even now his work was 
that of an artist, his love of it too real not 
to make him a stern critic of its results ; 
but the tyranny of a good income had 
fettered him, by depriving him of the 
wholesome and stern need of continual 
exertion, and by leaving him free to follow 
his own devices. The younger son of a 
banker, wdio dying had left his children 
well provided with this world's goods, 
Stephen Nugent, as a lad, had passed 
throucrh school and college before he 
reahsed, through the pleasant crowding of 
such a boy's existence, that the attempt to 
arrest the beauty around him — the ' Ver- 
iveile dock ! Du hist so sclion,' of which 



12 THE LONG LAXE 

the painter's instinct is an eternal expi"^s- 
sion — mio;ht have been for him — as lie 
thought, still might prove — at once life's 
truest work and deepest delight. But the 
cares of this world, or its pleasures, and 
the deceitfulness of riches had their usual 
effect, in preventing a habit of work, 
thouo;h not hinderin^f more or less con- 
tinned spurts of effort, which showed that, 
had Nugent not been encumbered by 
2,000/. a year and the pleasant active 
idleness which would often appear the 
necessary consequence of such an income 
with a young man, he might have accom- 
plished much that many men would have 
lield well worth achieving. 

Not, however, that it would have had 
much value in the eyes of his eldest 
brother, who, ensconced in their fatlier's 



THE LOXG LANE 13 

chair in tlie bank, grumbled out that ' that 
confounded daubing had been Steve's ruin. 
If he'd gone into the army or the bar, now, 
he would have had something to think 
about ; or if he'd taken the share in the 
bank, of which he had had the choice ; but 
as it was, he'd never settle to anything, and 
when he wanted to marry, he wouldn't find 
his money go so far after all ' — a natural 
conclusion from a man whose own income 
was steadily increasing, and who hoped to 
find himself on the right side of 20,000/. a 
year before he died. 

Stephen held his own way, a pleasanter 
one than that of his elder brother, though 
not so directly profitable to himself. If 
now and then he had a rather dreary 
conviction that the best years of his life 
were drifting away in an aimless fashion. 



14 THE LOXG LANE 

he did not choose his brother Georije as 
confessor ; and as the vague, ardent hopes 
and impulses of boyhood faded farther and 
farther away into the past, and his man- 
hood settled into the groove circumstances 
and himself had made for it, the more 
surely he felt the strength a definite aim 
would have given him, the more certainly 
he knew each year withdrew farther from 
him the possibility of such an aim. The ends 
which have value to an ambitious boy lose 
it to a man who has passed thirty, unless 
they have been steadily kept in view for 
years as his goal. 

Somewhere after this manner were 
Nugent's meditations, as he followed the 
narrow footpath between the gorse and 
heather, with no change in the view for 
miles, till the sea, of wJiich he had lost 



THE LONG LANE 15 

sio"ht, shone a<?am in the distance aj^ainst 
the soft willow tints of the slopes of the 
headlands, and the black and red and 
purple brown of their cliffs. He halted, 
the silent happiness of the scene filling his 
heart. The solitude was only broken by 
the speck of a ship on the horizon, and the 
sense of human life so far away did not 
break the spell. Nugent had met no 
single soul, all the way from Carnwith 
until now. 

There was a figure in front of him, 
crossino; the moor, but whether advancinfj 
in his direction, or following, as he was, the 
road to Lynion, Nugent could not for a few 
moments decide ; it was so far off, too far 
yet for him to be sure if it were man or 
woman. Another minute and he saw it 
was a woman, drawing nearer to him, her 



16 THE LONG LANE 

form thrown out darkly against the radi- 
ance of the sea and sky. He coukl not yet 
see if she were young or okl, but her move- 
ment struck him ; she came on swiftly, 
steadily, as blown by an even, resistless 
wind, borne on with that charm of free 
motion which is rare in Englisliwomen. 
As she approached, Nugent saw she was 
young, a tall, slender figure, the grace of 
strength and beauty visible in form, as in 
gait ; her simply made gown of rough, 
dark blue serge did not conceal how fine 
were the long lines of her figure, of throat 
and shoulder and arm, and then he found 
she was beautiful. It was like coming 
on some tall, wonderful flower in bloom 
among the sere heather, to meet her on 
this desolate moor ; a girl of about twenty, 
clear-featured, level-browed, whose great 



THE LONG LAXE 17 

grey eyes looked out straight, neither 
proud nor abashed, glad nor sad, but with 
what was like fierceness in their unanswer- 
ing gaze, as in the set curve of the beauti- 
ful lips and the head's poise on the rounded 
shaft of throat and neck. Something, as 
Nugent fancied, of untamed, unconscious 
maidenhood it was that gave forbidding- 
ness to her fairness, a mute defiance, which 
withheld him from asking her if he were on 
the right road, with the instinct of human 
fellowship which comes to most men and 
women, meeting one another in a surround- 
ing solitude, and prevented his even lifting 
his hat as she passed him, almost as un- 
knowing of his presence. 

Involuntarily he turned to watch her 
retreating figure, secure from her looking 
back. ' Queen and huntress chaste and 

YOL. I. C 



18 THE LONG LANE 

fair ' echoed in his mind, but she was not 
regnant enough for Artemis. Her face, 
when she was close to him, meant, not 
calm, but unrest, fixed as the features 
were. 

' Odd,' he reflected. ' How differently 
one sees things when one has nothing to 
do but look at them ! If I had met with 
the face in a street, or theatre, or any 
crowd, I should just have said, " Very fine," 
and no more. As to beating my brain as 
to what her eyes mean, and what she is 
like Never mind ; I'll humour my- 
self.' 

Wherewith he sat down on one of the 
boulders with which the heath was strewn, 
and opened his sketch-book. He had a 
knack of catching the likeness of a face 
from memory, even if seen once only, and 



THE LOXG LAXE 19 

he tried to set down this girl's, as it had 
flashed fully on him in passing. 

As might have been expected, in the 
effort to recall the expression he produced 
what was almost a caricature. Yet it was 
like ; it brought her back so that he burst 
out laughing, when the tense mouth and 
the large eyes faced him, as if angry at 
being conjured up against their own will, 
and so defiant of Nugent's power over 
them. 

' She wouldn't be flattered,' he thought. 
' I'll tear it up.' He looked at it again, 
and the defiant gaze forbade him. ' No, it 
will remind me. It's awfully bad, but no 
matter. What's done is done.' 



C 2 



20 THE LOXG LANE 



CHAPTEE II. 

Fool. ' Oh nuncle, court holy-water in a di-y house is 
better than this rain-water out of door. — Kincf Lear. 

Lynion proved a delight to Nugent, being 
unlike any part of Cornwall he had yet 
seen, in its stern ruggedness ; the great 
caves ; the mingled tints of their roofs, 
shining and wet in the gleam of the torches 
kindled beneath them ; the creamy softness 
of the stretches of sand left by the tide ; 
the long line of each strong Atlantic roller, 
as it swept in ; the sunlight striking through 
the curl of its crest, before it broke, then 
flashinf:^ and minijliniT in a crash, with the 
white of the foam. He wished he had 



THE LOXG LAXE 21 

Liuended to make a longer stay. If, instead 
of these eternal sketches, one could paint 
a whole picture on the spot, it might be 
something like ; but to think one could 
remember the drawing of those crags, with 
only these nine-inch splashes to remind one 
of the whole thing, was nonsense. At any 
rate, he should stay there two days. Mrs. 
Blencowe's prediction, that he would be 
made very comfortable at Lynion, was, he 
owned to himself, quite fulfilled ; and the 
next morning he set forth to work pretty 
early — to find the tide high, and the sketch 
he had intended of the mouth of the cave 
impossible. 

He turned up a steep patli, leading 
aloniT the cliff, with the world all before 
him, where to choose. The sea was 
rougher to-day, and the waves were foam- 



22 THE LONG LANE 

ing and swirling, half in play, half in 
anger, against and among the rocks. 
Their sound and the sunlight were like 
the Sirens' song, bewitching into idleness, 
and Nugent had rambled two or three 
miles, his way diversified by the hills, 
where the cliff was broken into coves on 
the slopes of which cattle, as sure-footed 
as goats in their movements, were grazing 
here and there on such scanty herbage 
as they could find, when he came unex- 
pectedly on beauty which made him hold 
his breath, by the surprise of its loveli- 
ness. 

A little gully, up which the sea went 
rushing, splashing either side of the dark 
serpentine rock, thickly fringed with pink 
sea- thrift and green spleen wort. Down 
lielow, the thousand tints of the breakini]f 



THE LONG LANE 23 

foam dazed into living white, while, span- 
ning the rift of the cliffs, over the snow 
and the crystal green of the plunging 
waters, hung a foam-bow, sweet miracle of 
light and colour, born of the sun and air 
and sea, its silent radiance abiding, like 
a dream, above the noise and tumult of 
the seething water. The young man felt 
as in the presence of some enchantment ; 
it seemed an abasing of such a perfect 
thing, to try to render it by those dull 
earths in the colour-box, yet he must 
make the attempt. 

He sat and painted till the foam-bow 
died away and he scarcely realised he had 
seen it ; but its memory was there on the 
block before him, and the rest of the sketch 
he could finish as well without its delight. 
As he mixed his colours, in the endeavour 



24 THE LONG LANE 

to catch the odd hue of the sea-thrift, 
tender yet brigJit, his thoughts went back 
to the girl he had seen the day before, and 
whom, till now, he had almost forgotten. 
He wondered where she lived, for, except 
the tiny inn, the coastguards' cottages, and 
two or three scattered grey stone dwellings, 
lialf farms, half cottages, with their slated 
roofs almost touching the ground behind, 
he had not seen a single house near 
Lynion. The girl was a lady, surely, one 
who had perhaps lived all her life on this 
lonely coast, till something of its nature, 
its sternness and solitude and wildness, had 
passed into her. ' If it were so,' thought 
Nugent, 'what a strange life for a girl 
growing into a full and beautiful woman- 
hood, if ' 



He lifted up his eyes and saw her again 



THE LONG LAXE 25 

She was standing on the brow of the chff, 
some way off, as though watching a cor- 
morant, who was han^in^T over the waves 
in quest of food. Her face was turned from 
Nuf^ent, but there was somethinsj desolate 
about that sohtary form, with sky beyond 
and the waste moorland behind her, the 
waste waters below. Her hands were 
clasped in front of her ; even at this 
distance Nugent could see the palms were 
bent outward, with that tight pressure of 
the interlaced fingers which usually tells 
of an answering tension of the mind within. 
He was glad she did not see him ; he 
had a foolish, unreasoning feeling of intru- 
sion on her, as if this place were hers by 
right. Would she turn round ? 

Something half-way down the cliff 
below her — fjull's nest or strano-e flower, 



26 THE LONG LAXE 

perhaps — had caught her eye, and she 
leaned over to look at it ; another minute, 
and she liad let herself down over the edse 
and was descending towards it. Nugent 
was startled into sheer terror ; he was a 
good cragsman himself, but the cliff was 
one he should have hesitated to attempt, 
and for a woman he would have deemed it 
madness. He watched the girl with the 
fascination of horror, but a moment or two 
showed him that, if rash, she Avas not fool- 
hardy. He saw her step was sure, her 
judgment clear, and that her perfect 
fearlessness was her safety. None the less 
each flutter of her skirt, each feeling for 
hold of her foot, made him sick at heart. 

He saw her, midway down the cliff, 
carefully balance herself, stoop and pick 
up something, what he could not tell. 



THE LONG LANE 27 

and put it inside the loose bodice of her 
dress. Then she paused, as though doubt- 
ful whether to reascend, or find her way 
down to the foot of the cliff, where the 
tide was leaving a little strip of sand. She 
took the former course, and again the 
young man's breath came quickly, as the 
long slender arms reached upw^ard to 
grasp some jutting point of rock, and the 
supple and alert form swung itself up from 
ledge to ledge, till at last the top was 
reached. A loncf sigh of relief came from 
Nugent's lips as she again stood above 
and, turning away where the moor sloped 
downwards, was lost to his sight. This 
last^impse of her showed her head as 
bent over the treasure, whatever it was, 
after which she had clambered down, and 
which she now held in her hands. 



28 THE LOXG LAXE 

Niiorent could not return to his naintinjr 
as calmly as before ; every nerve of his 
body had thrilled with fear for this girl, 
and now, whenever he glanced up at tlie 
cliff, he seemed to see her clinQ:incr witli 
white hands and wrists, holdincr tisfht to 
the rock ; her head turned downward to 
find her next step below ; the dark blue 
dress and the firmly, yet lightly planted 
feet. 

He meant to inquire about her wlien 
he reached the inn, but did not, a little 
asliamed of his curiosity, a little unwilling 
perhaps to discover in tliis nj-mpli of the 
shore some very mundane being after 
all. 

The next day showed Lynion under a 
less enchanting aspect ; a sea fog and a 
Scotch mist combined made May a delu- 



THE LONG LANE 29 

sion, and the hostess's mildly dreary de- 
claration, that ' when this sort of weather 
set in, it lasted nearly sure for a week 
at least,' did not tend to raise Nugent's 
spirits. 

' Do you know wliere I can get a trap, 
to take me over to Carnwith?' he inquired, 
after a long morning spent in the fruitless 
hope that it might clear up, and the endea- 
vour to peruse a beer-stained ' Western 
Mercury,' a week old. 

Mrs. Fall looked hopelessly at him. 

' No, sir, there's nothing nearer than 
St. Osyth, and you ought to have written 
there before last night's post. There's the 
omnibus that runs between here and there 
and catches the one to Carnwith, but that 
doesn't go till the day after to-morrow.' 

Civilisation and railways have their 



30 THE LOXG LANE 

advantages ; this truth came home strongly 
on Nugent at that present moment. 

' What on earth shall I do ? ' he mut- 
tered ; ' I had meant to walk, but it's such 
beastly weather. How could I have been 
such a fool as to leave my great- coat at 
Carnwith ? ' 

Still, a fourteen miles tramp through 
the drizzle and soaked heather was prefer- 
able to an indefinite confinement to that 
stuffy little parlour, with its decorations 
of worked sampler above the mantelpiece, 
and two German lithographs, highly col- 
oured, depicting the faithlessness of a 
young lady with an enormous chignon, 
turn-down collar, and very tight boots, to 
a youth in an astounding midshipman's 
uniform, who after a tender parting, por- 
trayed in the first print, returned in the 



THE LONG LANE 31 

second to find his sweetlieart liung with 
many bracelets, as tlie bride of a stout 
gentleman with a frilled shirt, and with 
mighty rivers of gold chain meandering 
across acres of white waistcoat. The in- 
tellectual resources of the Lynion hostelry 
were further represented by five books in 
a symmetrical pile on a side-table, the 
top one surmounted by a spiky lump of 
white coral ; but when Nugent, having 
examined them, had rejected 'The Wide, 
Wide World ' and Hoole's ' Tasso,' there 
only remained for his delectation an odd 
volume of Buffon, a cookery book, and the 
Sermons of John Wesley. His thoughts 
went fondly back to Carnwith ; to the four 
or five small but precious volumes in his 
portmanteau ; the goodly supply of daily 
and weekly papers, which he knew would 



32 THE LOXG LANE 

have arrived there for him by this day's 
post, and the store of fragrant birdseye left 
to abide his return. He had discovered, to 
his disgust, that he had nearly exhausted 
the little he had brought witli him, and also 
that Lynion ideas of 'baccy began and 
ended with the strongest, blackest, and 
rankest shas; — and this last fact decided 
him to start. 

The heavy ground, sopping and slip- 
pery from persistent small rain, was not as 
pleasant walking as it had been the day 
before, but he turned up the collar of liis 
light coat, and digging the iron spike of his 
folded easel with some energy into the 
ground with each stride, he struck up the 
path he had followed the yester morn- 
incf, and which he knew led across to the 
road by which lie had come from Cam- 



THE LOiVG LANE 33 

with. He found the latter right enough, 
but just where it started, he fell in with a 
venerable personage, in charge of a flock 
of sheep, of whom for better assurance he 
made inquiries, 

'Aye, that's one way,' assented this 
worthy in a conceding tone, ' but the other, 
yonder, is a deal better. It '11 save you two 
miles along here, and bring you out near 
a mile further on, on the Carmvith side.' 

Advantages not to be despised. Nu- 
gent satisfied himself as to his friend's re- 
liabihty by one or two more questions, and 
took the path the old man advised, having 
rewarded him by a gratuity, acknowledged 
by a grim chuckle and the remark that ' it 
would help to keep out the rheum atiz,' 
— Stephen presumed by means of a visit to 
the Lynion hostelry. 

VOL. I. D 



o 



4 THE LONG LANE 



He himself was not disinclined to take 
a like precaution against the same malady, 
when, after having tramped three or four 
miles across the heath, he came on a tiny- 
roadside inn, if indeed that could be called 
inn, where one small room with a brick 
floor ' served for kitchen, parlour and all.' 
None the less cheering, however, was the 
hot whisky-and-water, in front of the deep- 
chimneyed fire, even though Nugent could 
hear by the sound on the roof that the 
drizzle was turning into fast, heavy rain, 
and a low moan rising in the distance and 
growing into a louder sob, as it crossed 
ovel- the moor, told him that the wind was 
getting up. It looked very much as if he 
were in for a storm, but that couldn't be 
helped now. 

When he left the little inn, there were 



THE LOXG LANE 35 

angry streaks of sunset in the west, 
beyond Lynion, but the clouds were rolhng 
up m sullen masses, gathering together 
from all parts of the sky. A lurid gleam 
from the sunset struck that part of the 
heath he had crossed, and athwart it the 
rain fell thick and fast. In front, the sky 
grew darker every moment, in spite of the 
heavy rain, and the clouds were driven 
faster and faster by the rising wind. 
Nugent pressed onward, in the hope that, 
before the worst came, he might find 
shelter, at the point where the Carnwith 
and Lynion roads met. An idea that 
he was rather a fool to have started 
grew into a conviction as the darkened 
sky was lit by the first glare of Hghtning, 
and the thunder burst over the moors, 
seeming to roll, in its after-mutter, across 

D 2 



36 THE LONG LANE 

the whole heaven. The storm-wind, after 
a lull, rose with a long sough, and then 
rushed fiercely from the north, bearing 
with it the driving rain, and closing in the 
whole day in an early darkness. Nugent 
fought on against it, the flashes of the light- 
ning showing^ him from time to time that 
the path still lay before him ; but he failed 
to notice that he had passed a point where 
two roads met, one branching north, and 
the other north-west, and had taken the 
latter. 

The storm showed no sign of abating, 
and the young man rather enjoyed it. 
With the cheerful certainty of a crood fire 
and supper awaiting him at Carnwith, the 
weird loneliness of the moor had a fascina- 
tion in its dreariness, as the lightning 
from time to time flashed it into view. 



THE LONG LANE 37 

showing the blankness around. It had 
grown quite dark; night had fallen with 
the storm, and Nugent had but a very- 
vague idea as to how far he had pro- 
gressed on his way. 

With difficulty, and crouching under 
the prickly shelter of the whins, he man- 
aged to light his pipe, and kept on in the 
teeth of the wind, head bent down and 
shoulders squared. A sudden gust took 
his hat, snapping its guard, and carried it 
he could not tell whither ; he would have 
given it up for lost, had not two quick 
flashes, one following the other, shown it 
caught on a furze bush a little distance off. 
He made the best of his way towards it, 
feeling rather proud as he recaptured the 
errant headgear and jammed it tightly on, 
holding it down by his hand, as another 



38 THE LOXG LANE 

gust, more violent than the first, made him 
twist round for a few moments, to prevent 
himself being blown off his legs. Then he 
turned, as he thought, back to the path — 
and could not find it in that thick tangle 
of heather. 

The lio;htnin^ had ceased for the 
while, though the wind and rain were 
more violent than ever. It didn't signify, 
he should find the track in a minute ; but 
the minute grew into a very long one, and 
the prospect of a night's wandering about 
the moor, chilled as he was to the bone, 
grew disagreeable and probable. Perhaps it 
might clear up later, and the moon would 
come out ; but, as the wind and rain beat 
ever more furiously against him, and a 
fresh glare of lightning revealed no trace 
of the path, Kiigent was fain to confess 



THE LONG LANE 39 

that such a hope was sanguine enough to 
do credit to Mark Tapley himself. As lie 
stumbled against a block of granite, one 
of the many bestrewing the moor, the 
memory of the old shafts of which Mrs. 
Blencowe had warned him flashed back on 
him. He was ilo coward, but one quick 
shudder passed through him, and then came 
thankfulness. He could not tell how near 
he had been to such a peril, but he was safe 
enough now. Even if he chose to accept 
the worst of his position, he had but to sta}^ 
where he was till the daybreak ; but that 
would be uncomfortable, and he did not feel 
inclined to bow so far to the force of cir- 
cumstances. He determined to make one 
more effort to find the path ; so, feeling 
carefully before him with his staff, he 
groped onward, till at last he discovered, 



40 THE LONG LANE 

if not tlie road, at all events a footway. It 
was very narrow, a sheep-track probably, 
but even a slieep-track was not likely to 
end at the mouth of a shaft, and Nugent 
sped on rejoicing, taking very good care 
not to stray from the path he had found, 
and caring httle whither it led hirn, in the 
comfortable certainty it must lead some- 
where. 



THE LONG LANE 41 



CHAPTER III. 

Verily 
You shall not go, a lady's verily is 
As potent as a lord's. — The Winter's Tale. 

It did lead somewhere — surely that was 
the distant glimmer of a light through the 
thickness of the rain. Nugent began to 
reahse how blessed a rehef would be the 
assurance of a roof over his head that 
night. He had always fancied he was 
accustomed to roughing it, but this was a 
' demned damp, moist, unpleasant fashion 
of roughing it,' besides being a lonely one. 
From wherever that welcome hght shone 
— cottage, farmhouse, or inn — he had little 
doubt of finding there a lodging for the 



42 THE LOXG LAXE 

night, if not a vehicle to carry him to 
Carnwith. A very short stay in the West 
Country suffices to beget a well-founded 
trust in the hospitality of its children, 
and Nugent's pace quickened in the di- 
rection of the faint gleam which, as 
he neared it, grew steadier and wider, 
into the square radiance of a lighted win- 
dow. 

It was not till he was quite close, that 
tlie lightning showed him for an instant 
a house of some size, and, as he thought, a 
distant background of tossing sea, lit into 
blue by the flash's lurid glare. Feehng his 
way in the renewed darkness, by the post 
of the stone fence in front, he groped up 
what might be a garden, with a dim, gusty 
sense, more than sight, of blowing tama- 
risks about him, bent almost level by the 



THE LONG LANE 43 

blast ; but as lie gained the house, the light 
streaming through the window guided him 
to the door, in friendly fashion. The 
knocker was stiff, as from disuse, but his 
urgent appeal to its resources was an- 
swered, and the door opened, at last, 
showing a long wide passage ; a winding 
staircase, in dim perspective ; and a tall, 
grim woman with the weather-beaten 
look of early age, which comes to most 
of the countrywomen of those parts, for 
all the soft southern grace of their child- 
hood. 

He could not tell if she were farmer's 
wife, or servant, but her startled stare at 
him was scarcely promising ; she admitted 
him, however, and would have shut the 
door, had not the wind forestalled her in 
that office. Otherwise a parley, would have 



44 THE LONG LANE 

been impossible, in tlie noise and rush of 
sound. 

In as few words as he could use, 
Nugent explained his plight — then paused, 
to see if shelter or assistance, even in the 
way of guidance, would be offered him. 
The woman surveyed him with a long and 
rather suspicious gaze ; but, as he was about 
to ask more frankly for help, she said — 

' I'd better ask, I suppose ; wait a 
moment, sir.' 

With which she opened a door, from 
the room beyond which streamed forth a 
glad warm radiance, and entering within, 
she shut the door again, leaving Nugent 
in the long passage, dimly illumined by one 
small lamp. He was growing impatient, 
when the door reopened and the woman 
reappeared. 



THE LONG LANE 45 

'Will you step in, sir, and see Mrs. 
Eoss ? ' 

So, she was not mistress. Nugent en- 
tered the room, but his eyes were so dazed 
by the long darkness, that for the first mo- 
ment he could only distinguish the warmth 
of the fire and candle-light, the glow of 
dark red drapery on wall and table, the 
air of home -comfort and of women's 
presence. Then he knew that a sheep- 
doc^ couched on the hearth was barkinc? 
furiously at him, and was only stilled by 
two words from a low contralto voice, and 
he saw a lady, no longer young ; faded and 
delicate, with a sweet, worn face, rising 
to greet him. Beyond her was another 
woman's form, bent over some papers, as 
though she were writing, at a table against 
the drawn curtains of the further window. 



46 THE LONG LANE 

and only recognising his entrance by a 
momentary lifting of the head — the girl he 
liad met on the heath. 

The older lady would fain have greeted 
him stiffly, but the sight of his dripping 
condition melted her frigid politeness. 
' Oh dear,' she exclaimed, ' you are wet 
through ; you will catch your death of 
cold.' 

Nugent laughed a little constrainedly ; 
the sense of intrusion he had so unreason- 
ably experienced yesterday, while watching 
the girl who now sat before him, bending 
over her writing, as though unconscious of 
his presence, returned in greater force. If 
he had meant to ask for shelter, the inten- 
tion entirely deserted him now. 

' Not so bad as that,' he answered, ' but 
I am really ashamed of troubling you ; if 



THE LONG LANE 47 

you would kincll}^ lend me a lantern and 
could give me any idea of my best way 
to the nearest inn, I shall only be too 
grateful.' 

' But I couldn't think of such a thing,' 
responded Mrs. Eoss with energy. ' There 
is nothing nearer than Lynion — and the old 
mines — ' so, thought Nugent, his dan- 
ger had not been all fancy — ' and such a 
night. Of course you must stay here ; but 
your wet clothes — oh dear ! ' — she paused, 
and the young man thinking she was medi- 
tating over the impossibility of a feminine 
wardrobe supplying his needs, made haste 
to answer — 

' Indeed I am all right — if there is any 
way of getting to Lynion,' he added with 
a hesitating, perhaps half- deprecating 
glance at the girl, who still sat as unheed- 



48 THE LONG LANE 

ing their words. She looked up now and 
spoke briefly : 

' It wouldn't be safe,' the tone was 
brusque, if not ungracious, albeit the voice 
— that which had quieted the dog — was full 
and round. 

' No,' said Mrs. Eoss, as gathering de- 
cision from her companion's words, ' of 
course not ; but you are so wet — ' she 
glanced hopelessly at his soaked and drip- 
ping condition, with a bewilderment that 
amused Nugent, as did her relief at the 
girl's suggestion, indifferent but helpful : 

' Joshua — ' 

' Yes ; that will do, if you don't mind, 

Mr. ' 

' My name is Nugent,' put in her in- 
voluntary guest. 

' Thank you, Mr. Nugent. Joshua is 



THE LOXG LAXE 49 

Eutli's — our servant — husband. He 
works for us, and sleeps in the house ; 
and if you wouldn't mind his things ' 

' I should be only too grateful,' said 
Stephen, who had no greater love than 
most of his kind for the after-chilhness of 
wet raiment. 

Still he felt rather shy of presenting 
himself before his hostesses, after he had 
been led along a flagged passage by Ruth, 
into a wide low kitchen, the willow, buff- 
coloured walls whereof were pleasant in 
the firelight — and she had introduced him 
to Joshua, bidding her husband to ' do his 
best for the gentleman.' This best proved 
to be a choice between Joshua's Sunday 
suit, fearfully and wonderfully made, an 
old pea jacket, smelling villainously of 
stale tobacco, a pair of serge trousers 

VOL. I. E 



50 THE LONG LANE 

and a rough blue jersey, cheerfully 
adorned with a large scarlet anchor on 
the breast. Nugent decided on the two 
latter garments, wishing heartily he could 
have remained in his own clothes, or, 
faihng that, could have stayed in the 
kitchen and been spared inflicting him- 
self on Mrs. Ross and the girl, who he 
supposed was her daughter, feeling such a 
fool as he did, in his present attire. Yet 
the close-fitting indigo vest, with its touch 
of bright red, was no unpicturesque setting 
to the young man's dark, handsome head, 
with its pallor of subdued yet deep- 
tinted colouring ; only unfortunately Nu- 
gent did not see it in this light, and would 
have given a great deal for an ordinary 
suit of clothes. 

Somethin"[ of adventure stirred in his 



THE LONG LANE 51 

blood, as he meditated on the chance 
which had thrown him once more against 
this girl, who had shown no sign of recog- 
nition ; whose silence and coldness were as 
an icy rebuff to any inward wonder about 
her. 

' Supper is ready in the parlour, sir, 
said E-uth, as the young man descended 
the winding staircase which led down to 
the kitchen, from Joshua's fastnesses above 
— and so he returned to the room where 
his hostesses awaited him. 



E 2 



52 THE LONG LAXE 



CHAPTER IV. 

Her lovely eyes maintain 
Tbeir pure unwavering deep disdain. 

Matthew Arnold. 

The parlour was very pleasant to his eyes, 
with the white cloth spread ready for sup- 
per. Mi's. Eoss was standing by the fire, 
one foot on the brass fender, and one hand 
steadying her by its hold on the slender 
shelf of the carved wooden mantelpiece. 
The girl stood by the table intent on mak- 
ing a salad ; shaking the lettuce, to free 
it from moisture, in a white napkin, the 
corners of which were gathered up closely 
in one hand. A strength in the steady, 
shght rise and fall of the arm gave 



THE LOXG LANE 53 

Nugent, already keenly alive to impres- 
sions of her, the suggestion of energy half 
unconsciously striving to find an outlet in 
all ways it could. Again he made his 
apology for his intrusion, and would have 
spoken his sense of their kindness, but Mrs. 
Ross stopped him. 

' Please don't say any more ; we are 
only too glad you found your way here, 
but you must tell us presently how you 
lost it. — Honor dear, are you ready ? ' 
' The salad is : will you come ? ' 
She looked at Nugent as she spoke, 
but without any change of her set, in- 
different expression. He could not say she 
was rude, neither was she shy : farouche 
suited her better. She appeared not to 
take the least interest in Mrs. Ross's in- 
quiries as to Nusrent's adventures, nor in his 



54 THE LOXG LAXE 

answers thereto. Yet she was hospitable 
in deed, if not in word ; silently passing 
him whatever he might chance to need. 
The supper-table was well sjDread, and 
Nugent half suspected that the two or 
three substantials that adorned it, did so 
chiefly on his account ; his idea of a 
woman's evening meal, in the absence of 
the other sex, being tea and an egg. If it 
were so, he was grateful to his entertainers 
for having provided for his more masculine 
appetite, which was sharpened by his tussle 
with the weather and the long hours that 
had elapsed since his early dinner at 
Lynion. Simply as the table was laid, its 
appointments had the daintiness of a long 
habit of refniement ; and the room, too, was 
unlike anything he would have expected 
to find in the midst of that desolate heath 



THE LONG LAXE DO 

as unlike as were its occupants. The 

panelled walls, painted of a delicate ochre 
tint, were such as are to be found in 
most of the better class of West Country 
farmhouses, out of the way of railroads 
aid the upholsterer of the nearest town, 
as were the heavy mahogany chairs and 
talles of the Georgian period, bright with 
haid polish, and a tall bureau, with china 
cujboard above ; the quaintly set glass 
doo's of which, however, only screened 
boo:s. But low shelves running round the 
roon held more books ; the wide ledge of 
the v^indow, outside which the rain still 
lashd the panes furiously, was full of ferns 
and tie sweetness of jonquils ; and on the 
wall <pposite Nugent, above Honor's head, 
there leaned forth, from a large photo- 
graph the tender womanUness of the Gran 



56 THE LOxVG LAXE 

Duca Madonna, its beauty contrasting with 
that of the hving face beneath, ahnost as if 
opposed to it. The girl's silence seemed to / 
make Mrs. Eoss nervous ; the remarks she 
addressed to her had a deprecating sound! 
but though Honor only answered by ' yeg 
or ' no,' her voice was sweet, and one*, 
Nugent fancied, her eyes were lifted to tie 
elder woman's, and a quick answerhg 
smile made her mouth lovely ; the ratler 
full, but not thick mouth — set like a bhs- 
som in the proud delicate face. 

She helped Euth to clear the table, 
moving about with a free, noiseless g'ace 
that bewitched Nugent's eyes, as Mrs. jloss 
asked him to turn his chair to the fire, 
saying she was sure he couldn't be ^arm 
yet. Tlie sense of restrained powder gave 
the frirl's actions a sino;ular charii, as 



THE LONG LANE 57 

when seeing Eutli attempting to lift a too 
fully laden tray, she moved her aside and 
took it herself. Nugent sprang up. 

' Let me,' he said, an odd beseeching in 
his voice. She looked round, as startled to 
find him so near, but kept firm hold of her 
burden, as if a man's proffered help were a 
stranc^e tiling. 

' No, thank you,' she answered, but he 
did not think her eyes hard at that 
moment — were they sad ? He did not 
venture to press the point ; she left the 
room, carrying the tray, followed by Euth. 
Nugent listened to hear Honor's step 
returning to the parlour, but she did not 
come back at once. Mrs. Eoss's voice 
roused him. 

'Shall you stay much longer in 
Cornwall ? ' 



58 THE LOXG LAXE 

'Two or three weeks. I have enjoyed 
my time down here so much, I am loth to 
leave.' 

' In spite of your to-night's adventures ? ' 

' They have ended so pleasantly,' said 

Nugent, his ear still alert for a step outside, 

and the opening of the door that should 

admit that tall, lissom form. 

' Thank you,' answered Mrs. Eoss, with 
pretty, half-humorous courtesy. ' I might 
return the compliment, even though we 
are such desert islanders here, that any 
forms of politeness take great importance, 
and we are chary of them.' 

' This is a lonely part of the coast.' 

' It could not well be lonelier. Lynion 

is the nearest village, and Polmouth and 

the railway are quite twenty miles from 

here. There are two or three small farms 



THE LONG LANE 59 

near us, from whicli we get what we want, 
but we are quite out of the beaten track, 

and of the way of ' 

' Of tourists ? ' 

' Yes ; there is no special point of the 
scenery about here which they feel bound 
to visit ; and if there were, there is nowhere 
where they could put up.' 

'You must be thankful' — inwardly 
hoping she did not class him with the 
crowd. 

'Yes, indeed,' said Mrs. Ross simply, 
and evidently unconscious of her guest's 
possibly fitting the cap on his own head. 
' Of course, in the summer and autumn, 
people do pass, especially painters, and one 
comes across them on the moors. One 
young man set up his easel just in front of 
this house last summer, to paint the sunset. 



60 THE LONG LANE 

and Ruth was so indignant, she went out 
and drove him away.' 
'How?' 

' Oh, her tongue is a mighty weapon.' 
Nugent laughed. ' You make me rather 
ashamed of my sketching-box and my 
wanderings.' 

' Are you an artist — do you paint ? ' 
' After a fashion ; but I can't call my- 
self an artist, hardly a worker — I wish I 
could. I was wondering yesterday at 

Lynion ' The door opened and Honor 

entered, went straight to the table where 
she had been sitting before supper, drew 
her papers towards her, and was again 
apparently absorbed in them. For a mo- 
ment he paused, as forgetting his thought. 
'What were you wondering.^' asked 
Mrs. Eoss. 



THE LOXG LAXE 61 

'Whether' — the vague idea, as he 
spoke, crystaUising into a fixed intention — 
' I couldn't try at something rather less 
bad than my usual efforts, if I stayed at 
Lj'nion and painted the whole picture face 
to face with the scene itself, and I made up 
my mind to try.' He did not look at the 
girl as he spoke, but he was conscious 
through his whole being, that this an- 
nouncement of his neighbourhood, for the 
next few weeks, would be distasteful to 
her, and he felt himself in the wrong. 
Still, why should he? They need never 
meet — certainly, w^ith her gift of silence, 
if they did meet, need never speak. 

'I should think it would be a good 
plan,' said Mrs. Eoss. 'But I know so 
little about painting. Have you any 
sketches with you ? ' 



62 THE LONG LANE 

This kind of display Nugent hated, but 
he could not be ungracious, and was fain 
to unfasten his box. He saw soon, how- 
ever, that his companion had not asked 
merely from politeness, and that she had a 
real, if not very critical, enjoyment of his 
work. When she came on the foam-bow 
sketch, with the lovely misty radiance of 
the many-hued arch brooding over the 
white foam, with its sunstruck gleam, a cry 
of pleasure escaped her. ' Oh, Honor ! ' 
she exclaimed ; ' come and look.' 

The girl, thus summoned, rose and 
went to her shoulder. Her look softened, 
as though a beauty, akin to that the 
sketch reflected, had been a delight to her 
also, and her face itself recalled the hght 
of the foam-bow on the wave. 'It is 
beautiful,' she said quietly. 



THE LONG LANE 63 

' I have not seen one of those bows for 
a long time,' said Mrs. Eoss, her eyes 
dwelling on the sketch, as with regretful 
fondness. 

' Will you keep the remembrance of 
this one ? ' asked Nugent. The sketch was 
accepted with some protests, but with 
evident pleasure, by his hostess. Honor 
said no more, but returned to her seat. 
He wondered what her occupation was, for 
her even brows were slightly drawn down, 
as though in the effort to concentrate her 
attention on what was before her. Cer- 
tainly such a lonely life as that of which 
Mrs. Ross's words had given him a glimpse, 
did not in this girl's case tend to charm of 
manner. Yet he knew she was not stupid, 
and the books round the room spoke to no 
want of mental culture. 



64 THE LONG LANE 

Ten o'clock struck, and, with a cordial 
' good night ' from Mrs. Eoss and a reserved 
one from Honor, he was shown up by Euth 
to his bedroom. He was vexed with him- 
self for being so haunted by the girl. If 
she had not been beautiful, he would 
simply have considered her brusque and 
disagreeable ; but when a woman has such 
full-lidded eyes, shining hke subdued 
jewels ; such waves of brown liair knotted 
into so heavy a plait behind her small 
ears ; so beautiful an up-bearing hne of 
neck and throat, sweeping up to the pure 
profile it supports — then, round her ' sweet 
thoughts will crowd as bees about their 
queen,' no matter if the lovely lips only 
utter brief monosyllables, and the long 
eyes look a steady defiance to any over- 
tures, even of common courtesy. The 



THE LONG LAXE 65 

meanings they might express are sug- 
gested, even more strongly because they 
show no sign thereof, as a blank canvas is 
always fuller of possibilities than a finished 
picture. 



VOL. I. F 



66 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTER V. 

Is there a voice coming up, the voice of the deep from the 

strand ; 

One coming up with a song in the flush of the glimmering 

red ? 

Love that is born of the deep, coming up with the sun from 

the sea ; 

Love that can shape or can shatter a life till the life shall 

have fled ? 

Tenntson {Bechet). 

The storm was dying away when Stephen 
went up to bed, and he could hear through 
the fainter qvj of the wind the .far-off 
thud and long-drawn moan of the sea. 
He woke with it in his ears the next morn- 
ing ; but it was only a murmur now, and 
the sun shone in brightly through the 
diamond-paned window, its lustre seeming 
the clearer after the tempestuous night. 



THE LONG LANE 67 

This window looked out over the back of 
the house, which he now saw stood not far 
from a headland, so that from the window 
on all sides there spread the flashing laugh- 
ter of the sea. 

What a place to build a dwelling-place 
in, and to live in throuc^h winter and 
summer ! There was no tree to be seen ; 
only a rough farm-building or two, appar- 
ently disused, and a loose stone fence with 
a row of gnarled tamarisk bushes ; beyond 
them moor and crag, sea and sky. 

His own clothes were ready for him. 
albeit there was still a prevailing suspicion 
of damp about them in spite of three 
hours' vigorous drying before a roaring 
kitchen fire. When dressed he loitered to 
the window, wondering what the time was 
— for his watch had stopped — when he 

V 2 



68 THE LONG LANE 

saw Honor coming across the moor 
towards the house. She had been bathing, 
for her hair was down, falhng below 
her waist as the hght wind's touch 
brought back its wave and colour ; and, 
as she drew nearer, Nugent, screened from 
sight by the curtain, saw she carried an 
open straw bag, the sides stuffed out by the 
rolled-up dark blue garment therein. She 
was not Hke the woman he had seen 
the night before, now, with her step glad 
as a girl's could be, her hair loose and 
shining, and her face bright, as, in answer 
to her whistle and call, her dog Dan came 
springing along the heath after her, his 
coat also telling of his morning's swim. 
Nugent heard lier laugh as the dog insisted 
on a game, and it was as a new revelation 
of her to his heart. After all she was but 



THE LONG LANE 69 

a girl, with a girl's waywardness and pride, 
a girl's gladness and fearlessness — surely 
with a girl's sweetness as well. 

He went downstairs and found her just 
coming along the passage. He feared lest 
her softer mood would vanish at his ap- 
pearance. It might have done so, but just 
as they greeted she had to try and prevent 
Dan, who bounded up to them, from over- 
powering Stephen with effusive politeness. 
' Down, Dan, down ! — I let him spring on 
me,' she exclaimed, ' and so he gets into 
the habit.' 

' But I like it,' said Nugent. ' Here, 
Dan!' 

' No, he mustn't do it with other 
people, because then he might with sheep.' 
The comparison was not flattering, and 
Nugent could not help laughing. For a 



70 THE LONG LANE 

moment Honor looked puzzled ; then there 
• came a sweet echo of his laugh — very 
slight, but it broke the ice. 'I did not 
mean to be rude,' she said ; ' but he was 
never properly trained, and I always have 
to prevent him rushing after them on the 
slopes.' 

She was grave again now, and Nugent 
asked, ' Will Mrs. Ross be down soon ? I 
should like to thank her for her kindness 
and say good-bye before I start.' 

' You must not go before breakfast ; 
my aunt' — Nugent had discovered the 
relation between the two women the even- 
ing before — ' would be so vexed : she very 
seldom sees anyone but me and Ruth, and 
she has enjoyed your visit so much.' 

The words seemed a tacit apology for 
her ungraciousness the nio^ht before ; but 



THE LONG LANE 71 

she evidently had no personal feeling that 
made her urge him to stay ; rather did she 
put away her own wishes, in favour of her 
aunt's liking the little stir and excitement 
of even a stranger's advent. Nugent saw 
this, and knew that the change in her 
manner by no means indicated a change 
in her mind towards him. He hardly 
realised to himself how strong was his 
heart's wish that it did. 

'It is very kind of her, and of you to 
say so,' he began lamely, and feehng hor- 
ribly untactful, ' but I am ashamed already 
of having trespassed so long on you.' 

' How could you help it ? ' she asked 
brusquely. ' If you hadn't been here, you 
must have wandered about the moor all 
night, unless you had fallen down one of 
the old shafts, or over the cUff.' 



72 THE LONG LANE 

' I had better fortune.' 

'I don't know,' the girl answered. Some- 
times I think that kind of death, with no 
time to think or see it, would be good.' The 
words came strangely from the young lips, 
but it was their tone struck Nugent. There 
was no affectation in it, no ' being as sad as 
night only for wantonness,' but a reality 
which seemed to empty the world of the 
delight of youth and strength and hope. 
The young man remembered with what 
horror Mrs. Blencowe, a faded weary 
woman, cumbered with much serving and 
the cares of a continual struggle between 
ways and means, spoke of such a death, 
which this young girl in her loveliness, 
with hfe yet fresh before her, could regard 
as a possible good. Honor was not looking 
at him : the two were standing by the open 



THE LONG LANE 73 



door, in front, and she was gazing away, 
straight over the brown-green moorland, to 
the morning haze beyond. He had won- 
dered last night if her eyes were sad, he 
did not wonder now ; their far-oflf dreary 
regard was sadder than would have been 
any impress of sharp aching pain, which 
might have borne with it a hope of heahng. 
There was no hope and no wistfulness in 
this girl's gaze across the heath, which 
seemed to Nugent no unfit emblem of her 
life, ' the level waste, the rounding grey,' of 
these months and years spent here, with no 
change except such as the seasons brought. 
Nugent had gathered, from several things 
;Mrs. Ross said, that neither she nor her 
niece was in the habit of leaving their 
home. A sudden stirrino; of his blood 
made him long to let his companion know 



i-i THE LONG LANE 

a fairer and brighter existence. She could 
not always live thus ; it was surely only 
the natural yearning for other aspects of 
life which spoke in the dreary voice, that 
still echoed throuo-h his brain, though he 
answered lightly. 

' I didn't see it in that wav last nifdit ; 
tliose old mines were awful bugbears to 
me.' 

' Of course, if one thought of them, they 
would be,' Honor answered ; then turned 
and went into the parlour, Nugent following 
her. She removed a heavy cloth, draping 
something on a side table, which proved to 
be a cac^e with a bird therein — a youufj 
gull. As she knelt down to examine it, and 
Nugent came nearer, as if drawn by her 
presence, she looked up. 

' It has broken its lecj,' she said. ' I 



THE LONG LANE 75 

found it the day before yesterday down the 
chff. 

So that was the object that had carried 
her down the rocks, with sure eye and 
fearless foot. Nugent could not tell her 
he had seen her, or how the little act of 
pity touched a sudden new chord of feeling 
in him. Only she was so fair, kneeling 
there, by the side of the hurt bird she had 
saved. 

' It will be all right in a few days, poor 
thing,' she said, as she attended to its needs. 
Then, as E-uth brought in the break- 
fast-plenishing, she helped her as on the 
previous night. There was a fire in the 
grate, and it was not unwelcome, for the 
air from the open window, pleasant as it 
was, bore in the coolness of the sea. 
Nugent stood thereby, feeling very useless 



76 THE LONG LANE 

without the power of being otherwise. 
Honor did not speak to him while she was 
busy ; but when she had measured the tea 
into the pot and placed the latter down 
in the fender, without filling it up from 
the bright copper kettle set on the fire, 
it was, perhaps, the feeling his presence 
a weight upon her, which prompted her 
to ask — 

' Do you care to read ? If so, please 
find a book. My aunt may be some time 
yet.' 

He obediently selected a volume from 
the small case close to his hand, but with- 
out noticing what it might be. Though 
his eyes were apparently fixed on its pages 
he could still see the girl standing by the 
window, plucking at a fern leaf as if in 
thought. She was still there when Mrs. 



THE LOXG LAXE 77 

Ross and the breakfast made their appear- 
ance together. 

Honor poured out the tea ; but silence 
had resumed its sway over her, and 
Nugent was unreasonably vexed that she 
was again herself of the previous night, icy 
and impassible, so that he did not dare 
attempt to break down the wall of her 
coldness. 

When he was starting for Carnwith, 
however, it was she who directed, clearly 
and concisely, the path he was to take. 
' Glad enough to get rid of me,' the young 
man thought, with some irritation. 

' Thank you,' he said, ' and good-bye, 

Miss ' he hesitated, and she filled up the 

pause. ' My name is Eoss,' she said, ' like 
my aunt's. Good-bye, Mr. Nugent.' 

But Mrs. Eoss did not part with him 



78 THE LONG LANE 

with SO little regret. ' I am glad you 
found your way here,' she said, ' and I 
shall always value the sketch. If you are 

going to stay at Lynion, won't you ' 

she hesitated and looked questioningly at 
Honor ; but her words gave Nugent 
courage. ' May I come over and see you 
some day ? ' he asked. 

He spoke to Mrs. Ross, but he too looked 
at Honor. It was Honor who answered, 
not till after a moment's pause and a glance 
at Mrs. Ross's face had shown Nugent it 
was her elder's pleasure she consulted 
* If you wish it,' she said, ' come.' 



THE LONG LANE 79 



CHAPTER VI. 

* And a bird overhead sang " follow," "! 

Aud a bird to the right sang " here," 

And the arch of the leaves was hollow, 

And the meaning of May was clear.' 

Dan, lying in luxurious ease, cocked up his 
ears and gave a short bark of recognition. 
Honor, couched down amid a tall confusion 
of golden ragwort and bracken and red 
robin, heard the voice and lifted her head, 
her lips grave, but a shining in her eyes. 
She did not move, but listened, as the song 
turned into a whistle, and then again broke 
into words, in a clear baritone, and there 
came a crashing of steps through the scrul) 
above her, as Nugent sprang down, tramp- 



80 THE LONG LANE 

ling on the thick growth of fern and wild 

flower, till he reached her side. 

' I hoped I should find you here,' he 

said, as Honor half rose to greet him, and 

Dan accorded him a delighted welcome. 

He sat down below her, on the slope, so 

that he could see her reclining, with the 

tall golden flowers, like stars about her 

head. 

' Have you ended work for to-day ? ' 
' Yes ; I half hoped,' he said diffidently, 

' that you might have wandered my way 

and seen it.' 

* Is it getting on ? ' 

* Nearly finished.' There was regret in 
his voice. Then he added, ' I have been 
five weeks, as it is ; the rain delayed me so.' 

' Have you ? ' said Honor, with a little 
start. * Yes, it is July now.' 



THE LOXG LANE 81 

'And your garden is in full blossom.' 
It was a name lie had given this tiny glen, 
to which Honor had one day guided him, a 
sheltered rift in the cliffs, shadowed above 
by a thick growth of blackthorn and other 
shrubs on its brow, and overrun by the 
lush growth of flower and bracken and 
heather, whose purple flush was beginning 
now to creep over the land. From above, 
a tiny stream fell down, in the trickle of 
a thread of waterfall, shining under the 
wreathed sprays of bramble, with their 
purple leaves and tender-hued flowers, 
garlanded with the graceful honeysuckle 
trails. In the centre of the glen shot up one 
tall spire of a yellow foxglove, as the heart 
of the stillness, the queen of the crowd 
of campion and ragwort, tangled together 
in a milky way of misty hemlock flowers. 

VOL. L G- 



S2 THE LOXG LANE 

' I should like to make a sketch of this 
place,' Nugent said, looking away to where, 
beyond the stretching-out crags and slopes 
which shut in the glen, was a glirapse of 
sea, of a deeper blue than was the serene sky 
overhead. ' I don't know, though ; I shall 
remember it better without one. Trying 
to set down every beautiful thing one 
sees, is like turning all one's best life into 
verse.' 

' I couldn't do either,' said Honor, ' so I 
can't tell. Perhaps I remember better 
because of that : but things are always the 
same when they come back ; one may put 
them away, but when one thinks of them, 
it is the same as ever — for ever.' 

Her tone was that which always smote 
on his heart, from the capacity of pain it 
showed in her, this girl whom he thought 



THE LOXG LANE 8 



o 



he knew as a man can only know the 
woman he loves, whom he seemed now to 
have loved from that moment when he 
had first seen her commg towards him, 
slender, and swift, and beautiful, across the 
moor. 

'Is it so ? ' he questioned. ' Old scars 
may throb and ache at times, but they are 
not like the pain of a fresh wound.' 

' They would bleed again, if the person 
who caused them came near,' she answered, 
scarcely as recalling a fantastic legend, but 
as speaking a truth. 

' Only with a corpse,' said Nugent. 
' Life holds the power of heahng, and 
so the wounds would close up with 
time.' 

' But the memory would always re- 
main,' she answered, and he could not 

G 2 



84 THE LONG LANE 

gainsay her ; the ugly memories of his 
own hfe forbade him ; the ghosts of weak- 
ness and sin and folly, which had never 
hurt him as they did now, when at 
times their shades would rise as accusing 
and bringing him into judgment, in the 
presence of those deep, clear eyes which 
now looked at him, with no love, it is 
true, but also with no shadow of the 
defiance with which they had at first met 
him — only with the pure, frank trust of a 
friend. 

It was much to have won this, nor had 
it been gained without patience and endea- 
vour; very gradually, during Nugent's stay 
at Lynion, had the girl softened towards 
him, or, as it sometimes seemed, relaxed a 
cruard kept over herself. Time after time 
her silence and abruptness had returned, 



THE LOXG LAXE 85 

but Stephen discovered that, after such 
moods, she was nearly sure to make amends 
by a gentler mien, when they met again. So, 
as the days went on, his visit to Trebarva 
— as that grey lonely house on the heath 
was named — grew more frequent. Now 
and then, at his request. Honor would 
even come to view his pictures, where he 
sat painting, in a little bay, not half a mile 
from Lynion ; and once she had taken him 
in her boat to view a wonderful cave. He 
had discovered that her favourite haunt 
was this glen he called her garden, and 
sometimes, when the desire to see her was 
too strong to be controlled, he would wan- 
der there, on the chance of finding her, as 
he had done to-day. 

He did not deceive himself; he knew 
Honor had no idea of love for him ; she had 



86 THE LOXG LANE 

allowed a friendship to grow up between 
them ; not, as he felt, without a struggle 
of some sort within her own mind — whether 
with reserve, pride, prejudice, he could not 
tell — and even now he sometimes fancied the 
' reciprocity was all on his side.' He hoped 
to win her, hoped passionately, with all 
lie renewed eagerness of youth, which had 
returned to him, in this dawn of love that 
had revealed life to him, as no feeling had 
ever done before ; but instinct taught him, 
that any word of this would, as yet, meet 
with a sure rebuff, and might destroy his 
cause utterly. That fierce untamedness 
that had at first struck him still existed in 
Honor, though it slept, and she held her 
life to herself. 

He knew her — yes, by her look, her 
actions, her voice, read by the hght of his 



THE LOXG LANE 87 

own passion ; but she had never revealed 
herself to him ; even that sadness of voice 
and words that sometimes pained him for 
her was an obscuring of his knowledge 
of her, for it spoke of depths in her 
nature, to whicli he held no clue. He 
knew nothing of her past life, heard 
nothing of relationships, or of any links 
between her and the outside world, except 
such as came from books. She seemed to 
have lived at Trebarva from childhood. 

It certainly was a surprise to Nugent, 
one day, when he discovered that Mrs. 
Ross was one of those happy people who 
have a defined object in life, which is 
likely to occupy them till death. Tlie fact 
of her content in the slow current of her 
existence was easily explained, when it 
was once known that this quiet, faded lady 



88 THE LO^'G LAXE 

was a scholar and a deep one, who if, 
like poor Evadne, she could ' do no good, 
because a woman, reached constantly at 
something that was near it.' A new theorj^ 
of Hittite theology, that should prove all 
existing authorities on the subject, both 
Eno'lish and German, but blind leaders of 
the blind, kept her faculties interested and 
lier pen occupied, even when she was not 
employed in wading through interminable 
tomes on the subject, chiefly printed in 
crabbed German type. Whether her great 
work, embodying all this labour, would 
ever see the hght seemed doubtful ; but 
she had an entire faith in her theory, if not 
in herself, and that contented her. 

' Even if I fail to prove it, someone else 
will succeed,' she said to Nugent, at the 
time she revealed to him this great object 



THE LONG LANE 89 

of her life — somewhat tmiidly at first, but 
warmins mto enthusiasm as she went on ; 
' so it is all right.' 

'It seems such an out-of-the-way 
subject, for a woman to take up,' the 
young man said afterwards to Honor, 
tellincf her of his astonisliment at this 
ghmpse into the stores of research and 
knowledge, which Mrs. Ross kept, as a 
rule, concealed. 'And she is so wonder- 
fully learned ; it came on me with a shock 
of surprise.' 

'I don't think it is strange,' returned 
Honor, with a touch of her old abruptness. 
'The first idea of the theory was her 
husband's ; she loved him dearly, and they 
had only been married two years when 
he died. He was very interested in this, 
and had taught her to be the same ; so it 



90 THE LOXG LANE 

was as though she was doins, his work for 
him, when he was dead, and she must 
carry it through. She worked and read 
and thought ' — as if in despite of herself, 
the girl's eyes brightened and her voice 
took a passionate ring — ' though she was 
very poor and had to earn her Hving at the 
same time, and the one or two clever men 
she asked about it laughed at her hus- 
band's theory ; but all the same she went 
on working, never giving it up, struggling 
to learn what she needed to know before 
she could understand her ground fully. I 
don't know what it is all about, but I hope 
she will prove it. Still it is not strange, 
only natural ; as natural as though it were 
a child he had left her to bring up. It is 
all for him.' 

' I see,' was all Nugent responded. 



THE LOXG LANE 91 

Honor, unconsciously to herself, had, in 
revealing to him tlie mainspring of this 
other woman's action, shown the woman 
in her own nature. She drew back into 
her shell again, directly. ' Perhaps I 
oughtn't to have told you so much about 
her,' she said, ' but I wanted you to under- 
stand.' The last words touched Nugent 
with quick pleasure ; they were the 
nearest sign she had given of confidence 
in him. 

'July,' he repeated after a while, 
when, this afternoon, they liad both sat 
silent for some minutes, watching the hght 
deepen in the west. ' May I walk back 
with you to Trebarva this evening? It 
will be nearly my last visit,' 

' I think Aunt Mary expects you,' 
was Honor's answer. It ratlier irritated 



92 THE LONG LANE 

Nugent ; he would have liked her to bid 
him more directly. 

' Are you going away so soon ? ' she 
asked. Stephen fancied for a moment there 
was regret in her voice, and it made him 
bold, though he only answered — 

' When my work is done, next week.' 

Then the passionate desire for a sign 
overcame him, and he turned to look at her, 
where she sat above him. ' We are friends ? ' 
he said, putting out his hand ; and hers an- 
swered it. An instant quick rush of joy 
made his heart swell, but she had withdrawn 
her hand again, as though the instinct which 
prompted her were not justified to her own 
mind. ' Are we ? ' she questioned. 

' You know best,' Nugent returned 
bitterly ; the jar of disappointment, caused 
by her words, was too sudden to be 



THE LONG LANE 93 

hidden. He had never so spoken to her 
before, and her answer came with strange 
gentleness, as though she felt a reproach : 

' How can we be ? you are going away, 
and we live quite apart. Even if we 
didn't, I could never be of any use or good 
to you.' 

' Or I to you, you mean,' he said, the 
bitterness not quite gone from his voice. 

' I didn't think of that ' — the truth of 
the words made him ashamed of his im- 
patience. ' The thought of a friend is 
good,' he answered. 'Although one may 
never see him, or hear of him. A 
man's saving your life doesn't make you 
friends with him ; it may do the reverse.' 

She smiled, and her smile was like a 
seal of the bond between them which he 
had claimed. He spoke no word of re- 



94 THE LONG LANE 

tiirnino; to Cornwall, after he should have 
left it, but the burden of the song, 
' Schweig stille^ 7nein Eerz, schiveig stilly' 
was repeating itself, like a sweet refrain of 
warning, within him. It was so hard to 
be silent, and yet one word of love might 
lose him all. Friendship he might claim 
now, but love — ah ! when ? the proud 
virginal curves of the lips, the clear silence 
of the eyes, forbade him, even while they 
quickened his passion. 

' I think we ought to go home,' Honor 
said, rising at last from amidst the fern. 
' Dan wants his supper, if we don't.' 

Dan wagged his tail, in grateful ac- 
knowledgment of his mistress's considera- 
tion, and started away across the heath, in 
an ecstasy of barking, while Honor and 
Stephen followed more leisurely, and, as 



THE LCNG LANE 95 

they gained the top of the hill, turned 
with one accord to look at the sunset glow, 
already touching the western sea, and 
filhng the world with an air of glory. The 
warm Ught fell on the curve of Honor's 
cheek and neck, and brightened the soft- 
ness of her hair ; her eyes seemed to have 
caught the colour of the sea, where its 
depths were shadowed by the chffs above. 
Nugent had the sense of being in a dream ; 
the moment was so hushed, the wild scent 
of the flowers and heather at their feet so 
sweet. K he could only read the future, 
he thought, in the sunset, as in a magic 
mirror, his future — and hers. 

They turned away from the western 
light, taking the narrow track towards 
Trebarva, across the moors, where scat- 
tered sheep were nibbling the scanty 



96 THE LOXG LANE 

turf. Presently, Honor's home faced them, 
its grey walls sad and stern, but the win- 
dows flashing back the sunset blaze, as 
tliough on fire within. It was a large 
rambling house, of more dignity than most 
of the farmhouses scattered about the 
country, but able to match with any in 
dreariness from the absence of tree or 
grass or stream ; and the garden seemed 
sadder than all the rest, in spite of its 
fence of tamarisk, the livid blue of tlie 
hydrangea and the golden fire of marigolds 
— about the only flowers that would grow 
therein, except in one corner, where clove 
carnations flourished, in a thick splendour 
of dusky red, filhng the air with their 
richness of scent. A garden without a tree 
or a blade of grass, and where not a rose 
will bloom, is no garden at all. 



THE LOXCI LANE 97 



CHAPTER YIL 

Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan ? — Villox. 

Mrs. Ross was in the parlour, bending over 
her interminable manuscript, with one or 
two piles of books for reference by her. 

' Mr. Nugent has come back with me, 
Mary,' said Honor, speaking in the door- 
way, but not entering, as Stephen held the 
door open for her. As she turned away, 
she looked up at him, saying, ' Thank you,' 
as though the little conventional act held 
for her this once a meaning of thought 
and helpfulness, A lonely life is apt to 
foster a terrible habit of earnestness. 

She went straight up to her own room, 

VOL. I. H 



98 THE LONG LANE 

leaving Mrs. Eoss and Stephen in con- 
verse ; there was a flush on her cheek, as 
of a repressed excitement, scarcely under- 
stood by herself, from the breaking down 
of some barrier of long self-control. • She 
was like one coming from a dark room into 
fresh air and sunhght, dazzled and confused 
by the change. She threw off her hat, as 
if its pressure hurt her, pressing her hand 
over her forehead, and pushing from it the 
heavy growtli of her hair ; then stood still, 
the slender strong hand still propping the 
head, as in thought. 

' His friend ! ' her memory repeated as 
though pleading with herself. She could 
not help it, if he willed it so ; everything 
had been so different since he came ; 
when he should have cone, how! — she rose 
and went to the window, overpowered by 



I 



THE LONG LA>'E 99 

the sense of the heavy change it would be, 
when she could no longer wonder in the 
morning if the day would see him crossing 
the moor to Trebarva ; when each effort 
towards friendship which she had repulsed 
would come back to her with the bitterness 
of lost opportunity. He had tried to be 
her friend all along, had been kind and 
gentle in spite of her coldness and rudeness, 
and now that he had conquered them, was 
going away, most hkely never to come 
again. 

She must let these few last days that 
yet remained be bright ; a thirst all at 
once possessed her for what she had reso- 
lutely put away from her this last month. 
To what good had she denied herself this 
sweetness of pleasant comradeship and 
friendship — how pleasant she had never 

H 2 



100 THE LONG LANE 

known till now that its possibility was 
nearly past — and where was the un- 
reasoning bitterness she had felt against 
ISTugent at first, and had striven to main- 
tain ? Vanished, she knew not whither : 
all that remained was a longing for the 
pardon she knew he would freely give, but 
which the very instinct which made her de- 
sire it, forbade her to crave. No matter ; 
they were friends now ; ' friends ' — the last 
word came softly unawares from her lips. 

' Honor ! Honor ! are you not coming 
down ? ' 

Mrs. Eoss's voice from below startled 
her. She had no time to think, and acted 
on the impulse of her will, hardly knowing 
what she did, as she loosened the thick coil 
of her hair and, rapidly combing through 
its meshes, knotted it again, in a freshly 



THE LOXG LANE 101 

twisted mass, low on her neck. She knelt 
down and, opening the lowest drawer of 
the tall, brass-handled chest, pulled there- 
from a white gown, soft and flowing, with 
full ruffles of old yellow lace at throat and 
wrists. There was no coquetry in this, it 
was but the outcome of the new-born, 
passionate desire to feel the whole world 
fair, for this little while ; she did not want 
Mr. Nugent to remember her only in her 
rouo'h blue serge, as harsh as her manner 
liad been. 

And so she went downstairs. 

Stephen was standing talking to Mrs. 
Ross, as Honor entered the parlour ; he 
looked up and beheld her, a white vision, 
her eyes alight with a new splendour ; her 
cheeks yet faintly flushed ; the dim yellow 
of the thick plaitings of lace showing 



102 THE LONG LANE 

deeper against the tender hue of throat 
and hands ; the traihng dress making her 
appear taller than usual. 

' Why, Honor ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Eoss, 
too taken by surprise to hide the fact. 

' It was so hot,' the girl said : ' I rum- 
mas;ed out a cooler gown.' She did not 
look at Nugent, but she felt the mute praise, 
and it overcame her with an agony of 
shame. She wished she had never changed 
her dress. A new fear of Nugent had been 
born within her, he had become her 
standard of right and wrong, and the 
sudden sense of foolishness and vanity in 
her own heart made her feel condemned in 
his. 

Mrs. Eoss left the room, in order to 
clear ' the mark of the beast,' as she 
expressed it — i.e. ink stains — from her 

i 



THE LONG LANE 103 

fingers, and there was silence in tlie room. 
Honor leant over the corner of the table, 
out of the open window, striving to reach a 
carnation which grew below it, and obviate 
the need of her speaking first. A move- 
ment of her arm puslied a pile of papers off 
the table, the breeze caught them, and the 
sheets fluttered all about the room, in 
most admired disorder. Nuj^ent and she 
both stooped to pick them up, and, as they 
did so, he could not help seeing the figures 
and letters scribbled over the pages. Their 
eyes met and they both smiled. Honor 
somewhat shamefacedly. 

' Surprise number two,' Stephen said. 
' I beg your pardon, I am very impertinent, 
but I have only just overcome the fear of 
Mrs. Eoss which fell on me when I dis- 
covered her pursuits, and this is worse.' 



104 THE LONG LANE 

He spoke lightly, to hide his embarrass- 
ment; for, in truth, he was a little afraid of 
her resenting his discovery of her study of 
the higher mathematics. The scrawled- 
over sheets told their own story of steady, 
severe work, before she could have tackled 
those ' agreeable combinations of letters and 
figures,' the very sight of which inspired 
Nugent, who had hated mathematics from 
his early youth, with a holy horror. 

But the incident had broken Honor's 
chain of feeling, and so she was thankful 
for it, albeit ashamed, as girls still will be, 
in spite of Girton and M.A. degrees, when 
men discover them working in the ground 
so lonsj guarded and fenced against their 
invasion. ' It was only,' she said, ' that 
anything does to occupy one.' 

' Was this what you were absorbed in, 



THE LONG LAXE 105 

that first evenino- I came ? ' he asked, a 
hint of satire in his tone. 

' Yes.' She did not add how Uttle work 
she had done since then. 

' You really are so fond of these things, 

as to work at them without an aim ? ' 

then he stopped : she might have an aim, 
and his question be an impertinence. Per- 
haps she wished to teach ; involuntarily he 
smiled at the idea, though he could scarce 
have told why it seemed so ridiculous. 

' No, I'm not fond of them,' she replied 
curtly, as though tired of the subject ; 
' but they prevent one from thinking ; ' and 
at that moment Mrs. Ross returned. 

' You never play ? ' Nugent said, glanc- 
ing at the aged, tall piano, in a corner of 
the room. ' There seems to be more plea- 
sure in that than in most things.' 



106 THE LOXG LANE 

' Never.' 

' Except on the old spinet upstairs,' said 
Mrs. Eoss. 

' That was only for curiosity's sake,' 
returned Honor, ' and you can't call my 
strumming, playing.' 

' I like the spinet,' said Mrs. Ross to 
Nugent ; ' it sounds so sad — only an echo 
of the music that was once played on it.' 

'A very flat and jingling echo,' put in 
Honor. 

' I did not know you had a spinet,' 
observed Nuo^ent, as though his non-ac- 
quaintance with that fact were a grievance. 

' Would you care to see it ? ' asked Mrs. 
Ross. ' It is in the little parlour we only 
use in the winter, because it faces the west. 
Will you come ? ' 

' May I hear it ? ' he said, looking at 



THE LONG LANE 107 

Honor. It was the first favour he had 
ever asked at her hands. She rose and 
went before them, the liowmg of her white 
dress drifting in front of Nugent and Mrs. 
Eoss hke a cloud, as she led the way up- 
stairs. The little parlour was a quaint 
room with pale green walls and stiff, 
slender-legged furniture, not very elabo- 
rate or pretty ; across the windows was set 
the spinet, its satinwood dull and tarnished 
by years. 

'You will have to make believe very 
much, I warn you,' said Mrs. Eoss, as 
Honor seated herself before the discoloured 
key-board. 

She would have spoken truth, had the 
music it held for the young man been in 
the thin tinkle of the notes, but it was not. 
The melody was there, in the girl seated 



108 THE LOXG LANE 

before the old music-box, her head thrown 
out in profile against the pale jasper light 
of the west, the softness of her white gar- 
ments misty around her. Was it making 
believe very much, to see in her, with 
iier strange moods, varying as the sea, a 
forecast vision of tender est and noblest 
womanhood, gentler because stronger than 
Raphael's sweet maid-mother, her unlike- 
ness to whom had struck him that first 
night of his coming to Trebarva ? 

' I think Euth was in the right,' opined 
Mrs. Ross, 'when she objected to the sound 
of this spinet, because it was like ghosts 
making a noise. But I wonder who cared 
for music in these wilds a hundred years 
ago ? My great-grandmother, I suppose, 
or my great-grand-aunt ' — she glanced at 
two faded, vague miniatures of high-fore- 



THE LONG LANE 109 

headed, long-necked ladies, in black frames, 
above the mantelshelf. 

' Have your family been here so long ? ' 
said Nugent. 

' Much lono:er ; those old shafts that 
you dreaded were the pits in which they 
buried their fortunes, sucli as they were ; 
and it was some remote great-grandfather 
who left his home, near Penzance, and 
built this house — I suppose to be close to 
the object of his passion — the mines.' 

' Was his devotion rewarded ? ' 

' As most grand passions are — by ruin ; 
but look at the moon rising. You will 
have a lovely night for your walk home ; 
as light as day.' 

' I like the coastguard's path best,' he 
said, turning to Honor, who still sat at the 
old spinet, fingering the notes dumbly. ' It 



110 THE LONG LANE 

is longer, but I share Eutli's dislike of 
ghosts, and always expect to meet one, 
crossing the moor.' 

' Don't talk of ghosts in the twilight,' 
said Mrs. Ross, ' I don't like it ; and, Honor, 
you look so like one, sitting there. Come 
downstairs to the lamp and supper.' 

But in the parlour below Honor was not 
like a ghost, with the hght in her eyes and 
the softness of her lips, though she hardly 
spoke. As she helped Ruth, as usual, in 
clearing away, Nugent forestalled her in 
lifting the tray. ' You will let me take it 
now, won't you ? ' he said. She made no 
answer, but he had his will and carried the 
tray in triumph to the kitchen, where 
Joshua sat in the calm of absolute content, 
in a wooden arm-chair by the fire, playing 
at ' Patience ' with the cards spread on a 



THE LONG LANE 111 

trestle in front of him, and assisting his 
mental struggles over this amusement by 
the soothing influence of his pipe. His 
tranquillity annoyed his wife from its force 
of contrast with her own state of mind, a 
restless activity, which, finding scarcely 
sufficient outlet in the even tenor of life 
at Trebarva, had vent in scolding her 
husband, who showed the unmoveable 
stolidity of a sailor used to storms, under 
the hail of Euth's eloquence. 

' If you was half a man, you'd stand 
outside the door and take the tray from 
me,' quoth his wife, with cutting scorn ; 
' instead o' letting a strange gentleman, or 
Miss Honor, make beasts o' burden o' 
themselves in this way.' 

' You told me never to come anigh the 
parlour o' nights,' mumbled her husband, 



112 THE LONG LANE 

recognising Niigent's advent by an odd 
salutation, half rising, half nod, and return- 
ing to his occupation of deahng out cards 
with a horny hand, and pondering over 
his play, with his pipe held away from his 
mouth, and one meditative finger scratch- 
ing his nose. 'Besides, your arms are 
strong enough, as I know well, and so does 
the broomstick.' 

' Oh, Balaam's ass was nought with 
you, i' the way o' answering,' returned 
Euth, scornfully ignoring both the sar- 
castic inuendo as to her conjugal habits, 
and the fit of chuckling which the consi- 
deration of his own wit caused Joshua, some 
moments afterwards. ' If you muddled 
your head less with pipes and cider and 
them devil's books, there'd be some chance 
o' your hearing " Well done, good and 



THE LONG LANE 113 

faithful servant," at the Last Day ; but as 
it is, you're hke Thomas, unbeHeving, and 

I've done with you. What 11 you have 

for supper, old man ? ' The conclusion of 
this exordium reached Nugent's ears as he 
was turning away from the kitchen, and 
made him regard Ruth as less of a Tartar 
than its beginning and plentiful seasoning 
of Scripture allusions would have caused 
him to do. 

The front door was open, and in the 
garden beyond he saw the glimmer of 
a white dress, in the pale light of the 
rising moon. It was Honor leaning on 
the gate ; she turned as his foot ground 
the broken shells and pebbles of the path- 
way. 

' It was so hot,' she said, * I came out 
for air. Don't you know how sometimes 

VOL. I. I 



114 THE LONG LANE 

the feeling of being in a room almost stifles 
you?' 

' As though it were closing in and one 
must struggle to be free, like life some- 
times,' The meaning might have been 
more clearly expressed, but Honor's one 
intense ' yes ' told she understood him. 

' Only with life,' he said, ' you can't 
always get into the fresh air at will.' 
' Then what does one do ? — die ? ' 
There was a cry in her voice that 
frightened him. 

' What is much the same,' he answered, 
' or — I suppose the orthodox answer would 
be — do our duty in that state of life, 
&c. &c.' 

' But if one has never tried to do one's 
duty, one never thinks of it.' 

' I don't know,' he said ; ' I have never 



THE LONG LANE 115 

tried.' His own words startled him ; he had 
spoken carelessly, and they faced him like 
a stern condemnation of his whole life. 

' Is that the punishment of not doing 
rio'ht — not to know it from wrono- ? ' 

Her eyes were questioning his face, as 
though in his answer might lie the gospel. 
Nugent had never endured such self-abase- 
ment as was his now, feeling the girl 
trusted, as better and stronoier tlian her- 
self, him to whom her innocence and ti'uth 
were as something awful. Simple as her 
words were, he could only answer, ' I don't 
understand ; ' for who was he, that he should 
be a judge over her and settle for her, 
questions which, it seemed to him at that 
moment, he had shirked facing all his life ? 

' I mean,' she explained, a timidity lend- 
ing patlios to her voice, ' if anyone has 

1 2 



116 THE LOIs'G LAJsE 

never thought — has only gone on Hving, 
and has to do something which one has 
never dreamed of before, and couldn't 
have told if it would be right or wrong ; 
would one know, then ? ' Her earnestness 
was painful to Nugent ; he did not answer 
for a moment. Then : 

' One thing,' he said, ' I have always 
believed, though it isn't much good to you, 
who have never known what a black 
thing the wrong of the world really means, 
or how terrible it would be to be part of it 
oneself ; as sometimes a man feels he must 
be when he tliinks how he pleases himself, 
how little he thinks of any other soul — 
I can't help fancying that in every man's 
and woman's life is a moment when they 
know the choice is clear before them — 
hke Hercules — and, as they choose then, 



THE LOXG LANE 117 

SO their lives will be. The moment may 
come early in some lives, late in others ; 
and its choice, if one decides right, must 
be n strength from that time, helping one 
in little things and great.' 

' But if one did not know it, and chose 
the wrong ? ' 

' Then it would be no choice ; the worst, 
or best, of my faith,' continued Nugent, 
with a rather cynical laugh, ' is that it 
induces one to drift on very comfortably 
till that redeemino; moment shall come and 
clear off all old scores against us ; and, 
after all, it never may arrive. Oh, look ! ' 
liis voice suddenly changing, ' how lovely 
the colour of the heather is in the moon- 
Hght — no, it is not colour, only the feeling 
of it.' 

She did not reply. A woman cannot 



lis THE LOXG LANE 

cast off tlie semblance of a graver mood 
that has touched her as easily as can a man ; 
or, at all events, a girl of twenty- one can- 
not do so as freely as a man of over thif ty, 
to whom, just then, his outward life is 
sufficient. In the faint dark beauty of the 
cloud of purple heather, spreading over 
the moorland, in the tender air of the 
summer night, the deep-hued sky, the far- 
off sound and lio-ht of the moon-washed 
waves — in all these, Nusjent felt the charm 
of the hour and the presence which he 
must leave ere long. They seemed to 
blend with the sense of Honor herself, and, 
in them, he forgot all else, regret and 
endeavour alike. Hope grew strong in his 
heart ; he would surely return, surely win 
her. ' Schweig stille, mein Ilerz, schiceig 
still.' 



THE LOA'G LAXE 119 



CHAPTER Yin. 

We two stood by witli never a third, 
But each to each as we knew full well. 

By the Fireside. 

Honor said ' good night ' and turned to the 
house ; but Dan had no intention of retir- 
ing to rest so soon. True, he ran back to 
the door after her ; but there he hahed. 
His mistress turned round, and Dan, taking 
this as a sign of her consent to a moon- 
Hght ramble, gave a joyful bark and 
sprang to where Stephen was still waiting 
by the gate — watching them. 

' Sliall I take him to Lynion with 
me ? ' he asked. ' I will return him to- 
morrow.' 



120 THE LONG LANE 

Honor had come slowly down the 
garden path, and was leaning on the gate : 
the dog crouching by her side with eyes of 
wistful expectancy. She shook her head, 
smilincr. 

'- You would be very sorry you had 
made the offer,' she answered, 'No, Dan 
and I must go in, though the night is so 
lovely.' 

There was something of reluctance in 
her tone, and she spoke the truth. The 
night was lovely ; so lovely, it acted hke a 
charm on the young man as he stood there 
gazing at Honor, slender in the whiteness 
of the moonlight ; her eyes as deep and as 
beautiful as by day. Was it only the 
night, or his past repression and the spell 
of her presence, which made him bolder 
than he had ever been before ? 



THE LONG LANE 121 

' Why must you go in ? ' lie asked ; 
' Dan wants a run ; come a little way, only 
a little way, with me.' 

She hesitated. 'I must tell Aunt 
Mary,' she said, ' or she will be frightened 
til at I have come to grief on the rocks.' 

She vanished indoors, where Mrs. Eoss 
was sitting dreaming. ' I am just going to 
the turn of the cliff with Mr. Nugent,' she 
said. The frank carelessness of the tone 
was not a blind ; or, if it was, it blinded 
herself. Mrs. Ross looked up ; for one 
moment an idea struck her, but she dis- 
missed it. Somehow, she could never 
entertain the idea of Honor softening to 
any man. ' Don't go too far,' she said, 
rather anxiously ; ' it is a dangerous path. 

' I know every step of the way,' Honor 
returned, with some scorn ; ' Mr. Nugent 



122 THE LOXG LANE 

is in more danger than I am, yet he thinks 
he can look after me.' 

And Mrs. Eoss knew enough of hfe to 
feel sure that while a woman holds a man's 
protection lightly, she is in small danger of 
caring for him. 

Yet, indifferent as Honor appeared, 
there was a strange new pleasure to her — 
of which she showed nothing — in even 
such a sliofht service as Nuo-ent tendered 
her, in unlatching the gate as they strayed 
out together across the moonlit heatli. 
Perhaps it was only the softness of the air, 
the clear shining of the moon above their 
heads, the long radiance of light on the 
sea, and the sweet, far-off ' murmur of the 
moon-led waters white,' which influenced 
her so, that Stephen felt his soul swell 
suddenly witliin liim, as at some chance 



THE LONG LANE 123 



word her eyes met his. The sadness of her 
gaze was more wistful ; and surely there 
was a new awakening in it, a strange 
yearning, childlike and tender, which made 
his heart beat fast with a rapture akin to 
pain : the desire to fall at her feet, and 
holding those beautiful hands prisoned in 
his, to cover them with kisses, and then, 
oh, then to tell her how he loved her ! 

In another moment he had the impulse 
under control, and they slowly wandered 
on, side by side, down the rugged coast- 
guard's path, along the slopes of the cliff, 
till they came to a point where it grew 
impossible to walk two abreast. Here 
Honor halted, as if to return. 

' Oh, don't go yet ! ' he implored. ' Do 
sit down here a little while and watch, 
see, till that boat has passed where the 



124 THE LOXG LANE 

moon is on the water. We have gone a 
very short way.' 

'It is quite far enough,' Honor an- 
swered; but she seated herself, watchino- 
the distant fishing-boat, absently, intently. 
' Hark ! what is that ? ' 
A very distant sound of voices and 
laughter caught their ears. Honor hstened. 
' I suppose they are launcing,' she said, 
' at Maryn Bay. The niglit is so still, we 
can hear all this way off.' 

'What is launcing? I had the little 
sand-eels for breakfast one day, and thought 
them very good ; but how are they caught .^^ 
I can't make out.' 

' Don't you know ? You ought to have 
got some of the fisher-boys to take you to 
Maryn Bay. Euth and I often go down to 
the little cove, where my boat is kept, and 



I 



THE LONG LAN'E 125 

where there is a strip of sand, and we have 
it all to ourselves, with one or two of the 
coastguard children.' 

' But does Mrs. Euth launce ? ' 
' Of course she does ; and it is great 
fun,' said the girl, a fresh healthy amuse- 
ment brightening her face. ' You can only 
launce when the moon is high and the tide 
low. You go just where the waves break, 
and scratch with an iron hook in the wet 
sand, till you see something wriggle, and 
you clutch it. That is your launce, and 
sometimes it runs down into the sea, and 

you run after it.' 
i 

i ' Exciting, if damp,' returned Stephen'; 
It 
I 'but for Mrs. Euth, I should think 

j rheuma ' 

! ' Don't suggest it to her,' said Honor, 

i ' or you will offend her mortally.' 

i! 
II 
.1 

\* 



126 THE LONG LANE 

It was not a romantic conversation, but 
Stephen was well content with any subject 
which would make Honor talk freely with 
liim, as now, with a curving smile on her 
lips, while she sat on the rock, gathering 
some sprays of heather which grew near. 

' How sweet your carnations are ! ' he 
said, more for the sake of breaking the 
silence than anything else. ' 

She took them from her belt indiffer- 
ently. ' Yes,' she answered ; ' but they 
are such sultry flowers, one grows tired of 
them.' i 

Stephen remembered Perdita : remem- 
bered too the ' Shepherd's Calendar,' with 

its 

Coi'onations and sops-in-wine 

Worn of paramours. 

He would have given the world to ask for 
one of those blood-red flowers, with their 



THE LOJS'G LANE 127 

passionate, heavy perfume, and yet lie did 
not dare. 

' Do you like honeysuckle ? See, there 
is some down there^ on the lower slope.' 
' Don't get it ; your foot might slip.' 
The command was an entreaty. He 
lau^rhed, and swuni^ himself down to where 
his eye had caught sight of the tangled 
wreath of blossoms dim in the moonlight. 
When he came back he saw she was pale, 
with a set, strained look on her face. The 
red flowers and the heather she had picked 
had fallen to the ground unheeded. 
' What is it ? ' he asked. 
' You frightened me. It was not safe.' 
Stephen laughed. ' It was quite safe ; 
but anyhow you should not blame me. 
You are far more venturesome, as our 
nurses used to call it, than I am. I shall 



128 THE LONG LANE 

not soon forget wlien I saw you climb 
down that cliff at Lynion, after the sea- 
gull.' A real shiver passed through him 
as he recalled it. • 

' You saw me ? ' 

' Yes ; I was painting close by — will 
you be angry with me if ? 

' What ? ' 

He made an effort to speak easily, 
unconcernedly — it was not very successful. 

' I have no right to ask — but if you 
would promise me not to risk your life 
again like that.' 

She drew up her head slightly, but now 
that he had spoken, he had gained courage 
and met her gaze fully. 

' Will you ? ' he asked. ' You know it is 
not right. You must not.' 

The firm quiet tone touched her with 



THE LONG LANE 129 

a sense of sweetness in submission; her 'I 
promise' was like that of a docile child. 

For one brief and perfect moment it 
made Stephen Nugent sure she loved him. 

He dared not, however, test his faith, 
and in another moment it seemed no 
longer his, and the warning voice within 
him cried, 'Not yet; not yet.' The fishing- 
boat they were watching slid silently across 
the shining track, and Honor rose. 

' I must go,' she said. ' Good night.' 

' I shall see you back,' he said quietly, 
in a tone that brooked no denial. They did 
not speak much ; Honor appeared to be 
thinking. She held the wreath of honey- 
suckle in her hands as she bade him good 
night again at the gate. In truth, she was 
pondering over his words in the garden. 

Nugent turned back, tracking his path, 

VOL. L K 



130 THE LOXG LAXE 

till he came to the point where they had 
sat, and where the carnations still lay dark 
on the grey turf. He picked them up, 
meditating somewhat discontentedly, *Not 
that they are worth much ; she did not 
give them to me.' 

Still she had gathered and worn and 
held them, and their fragrance was blended 
with the echoes of the old spinet, the new 
softness of Honor's voice and eyes. Sudden 
and daring and sweet, the thought of heart 
and soul took form in one word, the mean- 
ing of which he seemed never to have 
known before, and which now called up a 
thousand dreams and hopes, so precious 
and sacred in their rapture that they ap- 
peared akin to the moonlight, and too fair 
to bear the light of day, all fulfilled in that 
one word — wife. 



THE LOKG LA^s'E 131 



CHAPTER IX. 

Cold, cold as death the tide came up 

In no manner of haste. — George Macdonald. 

' What are you goin' to do, Miss Honor ? 
Let the bird away ? ' 

' Yes ; its leg is strong now, and it hates 
the cage.' 

As Honor spoke, she opened the door 
of the sea-gull's prison. At first the crea- 
ture did not understand : then, as it saw 
its freedom, it darted through the opening 
of the cage into the air, rose and fluttered 
and sailed away seaward, leaving Honor 
with her eyes fixed on its flight and an 
unreasoning sadness at her heart. She 

K 2 



132 THE LONG LANE 

was angry with herself for the ache within 
her. 

'The others will peck it to death, now it's 
a stranger,' observed Kuth. 'It had better 
'a kept to the cage.' 

' It didn't think so.' Honor turned 
abruptly and went in from the garden, 
leaving Ruth to meditate on the empty 
cage ; she went into the sitting-room, 
where Mrs. Eoss was employed on her pet 
occupation — delicate white embroidery — 
as a relaxation from Hamath. Honor 
wished feverishly she could find soothing 
in cutting little holes in cambric, and sew- 
ing round their edges ; but as she could not, 
she opened the drawer where lay the books 
and papers which she used as an anodyne 
for the unrest that would beset her, and 
tried to apply herself to mathematics. 



THE LONG LANE 133 

To-day, however, they failed of their 
result and almost maddened her. She 
hated the letters and numbers before her, 
as though they had been Hve things ; 
taskmasters set by herself, to grind down 
and keep under the life and youth which 
cried within her. But this time, their 
slaves rose up in rebellion against them ; 
she pushed the papers away from her, with 
' a good dash ' that made Mrs. Eoss look 
up from her needlework. Honor gave a 
fierce, short, impatient laugh. ' If I were 
a little girl,' she said, ' you would tell me 
to go on with my lessons. As it is, I don't 
know what to do.' She lingered sitting 
there, a brooding melancholy in her eyes, 
then sprang up. 

' I shall go out in the boat. I want to 



134 THE LONG LANE 

get tired ; that is the only thing that does 
me good.' 

' Honor dear ! ' 

The tenderness and pity of the elder 
woman's face caused a pang, as of remorse, 
to shoot through Honor. ' You are very 
good, Mary,' she said, ' to bear with me as 
you do.' Impulsively she knelt and leant 
her head against Mrs. Eoss's knee, with a 
childlike chnging to the unspoken, unself- 
ish sympathy with all her moods. The 
two women rarely put their inner feelings 
into words to each other. ' Good-bye,' 
Honor said at the door. Then she went 
out, followed by Dan, whose expectancy of 
an excursion with his mistress was, how- 
ever, doomed to be disappointed. 

'No, Dan, you are too much trouble 
in the boat. — Here, Ruth,' she said, open- 



THE LONG LAXE 135 

ing the kitchen door, ' will you take care 
of Dan ? I am going in the boat, and don't 
want him with me.' 

' You're not going off without your 
dinner,' quoth Euth sternly ; ' leastways 
you'll take it with you.' 

' I don't want anything, and I can't 
wait,' returned Honor, but Euth was not 
to be put off so. 

'I remember that day the tide was 
against you and you didn't come in till 
ten at night, as white and spent for want 
of food as you could be ; and it doesn't 
happen again. Miss Honor, if I know it.' 
Here Euth pulled out a basket and began 
to stock it. ' There's the cold duck, and 
Nellie Cogan brought some fresh cream 
and some cherries this morning ; so you'll 
have some of them.' 



136 THE LONG LANE 

Farther resistance was useless, and 
Honor waited till the basket was delivered 
to her, and Dan, wistful-eyed and longing, 
but knowing his fate for that day was 
kitchen or yard, watched his mistress's 
dej)arture, feeling himself an ill-used dog, 
as, from the back door, he saw Honor take 
the path which led down, with many 
twists and turns, to a httle cove where her 
boat was dragged up, high and dry, 
beyond the reach of the tide. It was a 
small, hght craft, but strongly built and 
equal to rough weather, and, with some 
effort, Honor could launch it unaided. 
She would have made a fine study of 
supple strength and grace and energy, in 
a woman's form, as she pushed the boat 
down the shelving beach, till the keel, 
ceasing to grate against the stones, shd 



I 



I 



THE LOXG LANE 137 

into the lucid water. She leaped in, took 
up her sculls and rowed vigorously, for 
some time, with a steady, even stroke 
which bore her swiftly along, although she 
was pulling against the tide. 

The sea was clear green, unbroken on 
the surface, but with a strong lazy ground- 
swell which needed resistance and told of 
rougher waves, when the tide should pre- 
sently return to the shore. After a while 
Honor drew in her oars, and resting on 
them, looked dreamily down at the clear 
water and the waving, indistinct masses of 
dark sea-plants beneath, shadowed and 
brightened by the softened sunlight which 
pierced through the crystal. So drifting 
with the sea, in the summer light ; watching 
the flight of the sea-birds, as they swept or 
hovered over the sea ; hstening to their 



138 THE LONG LANE 

wild cry and the echoed break of the 
waves on the shore, whatever unrest 
troubled the girl was hushed to sleep in a 
dream of warmth and radiance and lulling 
motion. 

With a sigh, she resumed her oars and 
turned her course landward. All along the 
line of coast before her, ran cruel, straight, 
black cliffs, with brows frowning down on 
the rocks and surf and shingle below, 
which, here and there, ran out into reaches 
of sand, still wet and shining from the 
retreating tide. A shout from the shore 
startled her, and there, hailing her from an 
out-jutting rock, stood a figure she knew. 
An involuntary sweet light of pleasure 
crossed her face, and she turned to row 
where Nugent stood awaiting her, as she 
brought her boat near him, against the 



THE LONG LANE 139 

side of the rock where the water was deep 
and calm. 

' I thought it was you,' he said, ' a long 
way off.' 

' How did you get here ? You couldn't 
have climbed down the cliffs.' 

' Or flown,' he returned, his gladness at 
the unexpected meeting telling in his laugh. 
' No, I scrambled down about a mile further 
along, and feel as though the shore were 
mine by right of conquest. May I invite 
you to land .^ ' • 

' Are you painting here ? ' 

' My picture is finished, so I am sketch- 
ing indiscriminately ; the easel is on the 
other side of these rocks. I left it when I 
saw you.' 

He had put out his hand to help her in 
landing, but she had sprung up on to the 



140 THE LONG LAXE 

rock, with that habit of self-reUance which 
he often felt as a purposed rebuff, and 
holding in her hand the rope end to attach 
the boat to her moorings. She looked 
round, as if doubtful where to fasten it. 

'No, this will do,' she said in answer 
to a suggestion of Nugent's, that he should 
take the boat round and drag it up on the 
sand, near where he was painting. Slie 
stuck up one of the sculls in a narrow cleft 
in the rocks, where it remained upright, 
tightly wedged in, and tied the rope round 
it so quickly that Nugent had no chance of 
helping her, beyond just testing the firm- 
ness with which the pole of the oar was 
fixed. ' Now,' she said, ' which is the way 
to your kingdom ? ' 

' I wish I had brought some food,' 
observed Nugent ruefully. ' It is not a 



THE LONG LAXE 141 

very kingly fashion of entertaining a guest, 
this. If I had only dreamed I could meet 
you, I would have prepared a royal feast — 
as far as Lynion was equal to it — and we 
would have had a picnic' 

' So we can,' returned Honor, springing 
back into the boat and reaching under the 
seat for the basket she had forgotten. 
' Euth insisted on supplying me as if I were 
off to America. Are you really hungry ? ' 

' Not a bit ' — which was an untruth . 
' And you don't think I am going to rob 
you?' 

' There is sure to be enough for three ; 
Euth's idea is always, better too much than 
too little, and, as she says, one never 
knows what may happen. She will 
triumph, when I tell her of my meeting 
you to-day.' 



142 THE LOXG LAXE 

Tliey made their way across tlie pro- 
jecting, craggy ridge of rocks, to where, on 
its other side, was a tiny bay, circled 
round by chffs and rocks clothed in a sharp 
armour of mussels, which gave them a 
curious purple bloom, brightening in the 
sunlight to a metallic lustre. Nugent's 
easel was set up in the midst of the white, 
firm sand, under the shadow of a mighty 
boulder. 'This is the royal studio,' he 
said, turning round to Honor, with a grand 
air of courtesy. ' I think it must serve 
as drawing-room as well.' 

' And dining-room too,' laughed Honor. 
She and Stephen had both the delightful 
sense of playing at something, which 
survives with most people, from their 
childhood, and the indulgence whereof 
seems, for a time, to bring that childhood 



THE LONG LANE 14 



o 



back, with its inconsequence and enjoy- 
ment and free happiness. Honor forgot 
to think, or remember, as she inspected 
Nugent's palace, and it was with a mood 
akin to hers he asked — 

' What time would you hke to dine ? 
With all deference to a distinguished guest, 
the gazing on the outside of that basket 
makes me feel as if I had been holding out 
a siege against the sea-gulls.' 

' Till I arrived with supphes,' she 
replied, kneeling to unfasten the basket 
' But it is Ruth you have to thank — 
not me.' 

'To all, our thanks,' quoted Stephen, 
his respect for Ruth, none the less, increased 
by the view of the basket's contents, even 
though she might have been considered to 
err on the side of hberahty, in her provision 



144 THE LONG LANE 

for one girl. ' I fear,' he apologised, ' the 
table must remain without a cloth. It is 
the fashion here ; tables are so nowadays. 
Do you remember Eponine and the 
kitten ? ' 

So the royal feast was merry ; and 
Honor, as queen and guest, showed a more 
undimmed careless enjoyment of the hour 
than she had ever done before with 
Nugent. It made his heart strong within 
him, and emboldened him to say when the 
impromptu dinner was over, ' Don't go 
yet ; wait while I finish my sketch, it won't 
take long, and this is my last day. To- 
morrow I leave.' 

' Yes,' she assented ; but whether to his 
request, or to the fact of his departure, he 
could not tell. However, she sat there as 
he painted, and though they did not say 



THE LONG LANE 145 

much, the minutes drifted on into hours, 
and neither seemed anxious to rise and go 
thence, till Honor said — 

' How much roufjlier it is, and how fast 
the tide is cominfj; in ! ' 

Nugent looked up, astonished to find 
how near to their feet were plunging the 
wild white horses, which were growing 
larger and stronger. ' You will let me 
row you back ? ' he pleaded. ' It is too 
rough for you alone.' 

' I think I have had my boat out in 
worse seas than this,' returned Honor, a 
slight, amused pique in her voice ; 'but 
you will have to come with me or swim. 
It is too late for you to go back to where 
you came down by — Pendravock, was it 
not ? The sea is too high already for you 
to get round the point.' 

VOL. I. L 



1-^6 THE LONG LAKE 

' I never thought of that,' he ex- 
claimed ; ' but for you I might have been 
badly off. Is there nowhere one can 
climb up farther along the other way ? ' 

' Not for nearly a mile ; you would 
have a very long swim ; too long in a sea 
like this. But as it is ' 

' I can finish my sketch in safety ; that 
is, if you are not tired of waiting.' 

'No,' she answered, and was silent. 
Despite his present security, Nugent's 
words had raised before her a vision of 
what struggle might have been his with 
those strong waves which came beating in 
in curving hues of foam. The fancy would 
rise of his fighting them inch by inch ; as 
inch by inch they conquered his resist- 
ance ; of the salt-bitterness of the sea, 
Winding sight and stifling breath ; and 



THE LONG LAXE 147 

then ! The reality of the dream forced a 
low cry from her lips which startled him. 

' Are you tired ? ' he said, ' I oughtn't 
to have kept you here so long.' 

She rose, and stood looking across 
the Atlantic, as lie folded his easel to- 
gether. ' There,' he said, ' this is my 
good-bye to this dear place.' The fervour 
in his tone could not be restrained, and tJie 
same vague wonder filled both their souls, 
if ever again they two would stand thus 
together with their eyes fixed on those 
changing, wayward, eternal waters. It 
was scarcely a thought, only the feeling of 
parting drawing near them as the breakers 
were drawing nearer to their feet. 

Then they turned away together, to 
find their way back across the rocks, to 
where they could see the blade of the oar 



148 THE LOXG LANE 

sticking up. They clambered towards it, 
Honor going first, Nugent following her. 
As she reached the ridge of rock, she 
stared out on the sea in a hopeless, amazed 
bewilderment ; then faced Stephen, her 
look telling all, so that he divined the 
truth, ere he sprang to her side. 

Whether Honor's springing back into the 
boat had loosened the knot of the rope she 
had beheved secure, or wdiether the rope 
itself had been rotten, and its sawing against 
the edge of the rock with the swaying of 
the water had broken in two, could not 
now be told, but — the boat was gone, had 
drifted neither knew whither — there was no 
sign of her as they strained their eyes 
across the sea. 



THE LONG LA\E 149 



CHAPTER X. 

An inch from Death's black fingers thrust 
To lock you. — In a Gondola. 

A MILE of pitiless cliff on either hand, 
and the sea surging in faster and faster. 
Whatever fear there was, neither showed 
or spoke it. ' We must get on as quickly 
as we can,' was all Honor said. 

They hastened along ; but it was 
difficult to proceed rapidly, scrambling up 
and down those slippery rocks, whose 
thick growth of seaweed and mussels told 
how short a time in the day they knew 
sun and air. Far above Honor's and 
Nugent's heads was the high-water mark of 



150 THE LONG LAXE 

the cliffs, and Stephen's heart beat faster 
as he noted the mroads of the water. 
Alone he might have struggled to swim 
round to the place by which he had 
descended the cliff; though, with so strong 
a tide, his chance of success would have 
been small, but Honor 

' Can you swim ? ' he asked with a vain 
hope. She shook her head. 

' Not far,' she answered ; ' and not 
against these waves.' 

Then he knew if they did not succeed 
in racing the tide, it meant death. 

He wondered if Honor reahsed how near 
that silent and awful presence was : look- 
ing at her, he saw she did ; knew, too, that 
she had no fear. The quick glance 
between their eyes spoke all ; a new 
courage, a power to fight for her swelled 



Jl 



THE LOXG LAXE 151 

up in his soul, and they pressed forward, 
till after a quarter of a mile's toilsome 
scrambling, they stood at the point of 
which Honor had spoken. There came 
over Nugent a bitterest sinking of the 
heart, with the sense of how his feeling 
for Honor mocked him. His helplessness to 
save her faced him with that tossing fury and 
foam of angry waters roaring up to the 
cliff, lashed by the rocks among and around 
which they rushed and whirled and sprang 
as in a mad carmagnole to their own voice. 

Nugent turned to Honor : ' We must 
try to get across,' he said. 

' I don't think I can ; ' she showed no 
sign of fear, except the new-born whiteness 
of her face ; ' I will try,' she added. 

' You cannot do it alone,' said Nugent. 
' You must let me help you, so ' (putting 



152 THE LONG LANE 

his arm round her waist), ' keep tight hold 
of my arm.' 

One step into the water, which struck 
with a salt chill, and the foam of the 
breaking waves surged up to Honor's 
breast. Instinctively he felt her shrink, 
but his arm upheld her, and he said with 
all the cheerfulness he could muster — 

' Think you are bathing, and that it is 
only fun ; we will beat the sea yet.' 

She gazed up at him with a dumb 
terror and pain, which yet was not per- 
sonal dread, and they strove on against the 
water, clutching for support to the crags, 
and often being dashed against them so vio- 
lently, that Nugent half feared they would 
never gain the wide, flat table of rock, at 
the other side of the cove, which was their 
present goal, and which, when reached, 



THE LONG LAXE 15 



o 



could be but a moment's halting-place. 
The blinding and stunning crash of a 
great wave, followed swiftly by another, 
swept over their heads, and he felt Honor 
snatched from him by its force ; then he 
knew he had her again, held in a close em- 
brace and saved — for that moment, at least. 

But she, breathless and dazed by the 
shock of water, gasped out, as he fought 
on with her to the nearest rock, 'Leave 
me, you can't save me, and you can swim 
yourself — oh, go!' 

The cry of passion and pain in her 
voice gave him strength ; her cry told some- 
tliing which made death wit]i her gladness, 
and life the dearest heaven. ' We shall do 
it,' he said ; ' never fear ! ' Yet as wave 
after wave broke over them, and Honor's 
power of striving failed her, he doubted 



154 THE LONG LAXE 

his own words ; a wilder whirl than before 
seized them again, lifting them off their 
feet, but this time he knew he held Honor 
still, even if in death ; then, that the rush 
of the breaker had borne them in alons 
with itself, and left them clinging to the 
foot of the rock they had been striving to 
reach. Stunned and confused as he was, 
still himself, he dragged Honor up to the 
wide ledge above, out of the grasp of 
the next wave. She was well-nigh ex- 
hausted, the drenched hair and soaked 
dripping garments chnging to her heavily, 
her eyes still blinded by the salt water, lier 
breath coming in quick, faint pants. But 
as he spoke to her, Nugent saw a faint 
tinse of colour come to her cheeks. ' You 
are better now,' he said, ' and m'C are safe 
for a while.' 



THE LONG LAXE 155 

Yes, but for liow long ? Beyond this 
rock where they stood, the tide had 
reached the chffs, as far as eye could see. 
Further progress was impossible. Two or 
three hours might pass ere the sea rose 
over this spot, but the fringe of weed 
which denoted high-water mark was full 
four feet above their heads, and above that, 
ao-ain, grew the tufts of sea-thrift and 
samphire, looking down in their passionless 
safety on this man and woman, whose 
youth and strength were as an idle jest, in 
the face of this near peril. As the far- 
stretching waste of waters met her sight, a 
low bitter cry escaped her, a strange agony 
borne in its despair, as she dropped down, 
half kneeling, half crouching on the rock, 
as though the fulness of their evil plight 
had overpowered her, drowning and be- 



156 THE LONG LANE 

wildering both body and soul, as the salt 
water had done a few minutes since. 

' Honor, Honor, my child ! Don't break 
down so. It isn't as bad as that yet.' 

He hardly knew the manner or drift of 
his words, but they roused her ; she dashed 
the dank hair from her face, raised to his 
as with a defiance of fear and death which 
mingled with the anguish of her words. 

' It is not that — but it was my fault 
the boat got loose, and I have killed you 
— killed you. Why didn't you try to save 
yourself? It wouldn't have been so dread- 
ful then, but now Oh, God help us ! 

Does He never hear ? ' 

Her wild, imploring gaze turned, as to 
meet whatever power there might be to 
send help ; but all that met her was the 
cold aloofness of the sky, the cruel rising 



THE LONG LAXE 157 

waste of the waves. And yet, tlie very 
utterance of that helpless cry seemed to 
bring a faith in an Unseen Strength, with a 
power of endurance, even as the rush of 
tears flooded her eyes and choked her 
voice, and the stifled words ' Forgive me ! ' 
uttered brokenly, caught Nugent's ear, and 
pierced his heart. 

' Forgive you ! What do you mean F ' 
His hand closed over hers that were so 
tightly clasped, and he felt how they shook 
with each throb of her tears' passion. All 
his love rose within him, mighty to speak 
in this last hour. ' Honor, don't you know 
I'm glad to die with you — if I cannot save 
you ? That is the bitterness.' 

Her gaze met his, and he saw she read 
his meaning, and his heart saw too, under 
her questioning, doubtful look, the dawn 



158 THE LONG LANE 

of an answering fire to that whicli burned 
witliin liis own soul, and he cried — 

' Dear, if we must die, let me love you 
this little while ! ' 

She knew then what this friendship had 
meant. As a direct impulse, it flashed 
upon her, strong and terrible as the hungry 
sea, and found utterance through her lips : 

' Love ! ' 

A fierce short struggle tightened her 
mouth and bent her brow, as if she resisted 
a new passion within her ; and he, a strange, 
mad hope filling his soul, forgot the near- 
ness of the end, as he heard her falter — 

' I can't help it, and it would be no good.' 
Then her voice gathered strength. 

' Would it make you happy ? ' she ques- 
tioned, as in a delirium, half sobbing, half 
glad. ' If you love me, it is easy now.' 



THE LONG LANE 159 

His arms were round her, his hps 
pressed to hers that yielded, then parted 
with a cry, as she drew back from him. 

' Don't ! ' she said imploringly. ' Keep 
me, don't let me be afraid at the end ; but 
not so ! ' 

He understood something of her feel- 
ing, and his close clasp relaxed. The arm 
still held her, but only as yielding such 
poor help and comfort as was possible in 
this hour, such as her brother might have 
given ; and so, with all the old self-re- 
liance gone, she clung to him. It did 
not hurt him that Honor shrank from his 
kiss ; the wonder was his love had met 
with any response. As he looked at the 
pale face so near to him, he thought he 
had never seen it so young — almost like a 
child's, for all its womanly beauty — with 



160 THE LONG LAXE 

the piteous lips and tender trusting eyes 
he had once thought hard and defiant. 
It was too bitter that death should claim 
her, his darling, whom he had won the 
right to love. The longing for life, hers 
and his, rose desperately within him, as his 
gaze sought that grey trembhng sea. Sud- 
denly he started, staring eagerly across the 
waters. Honor's gaze following his saw 
the sail of a fishing-boat, white like a gull 
against the deep-hued waters, and rounding 
the coast some distance from them. Nugent 
put his hand to his mouth and shouted, 
but felt how his voice, even aided by 
Honor's clear, vibrant cry, was carried 
helplessly away landwards. The girl's eyes 
had dilated, her breath came quickly from 
her panting hps, and, chilled and soaked as 
she was, a flush rose to her face, then 



THE LONG LAXE 161 

faded away as this new hope died witliin 
her, and she sobbed — 

' It will never see us,' 

Nugent turned to her, a new light on 
his face. 

'It shall,' he said. 'Don't be afraid, 
Honor ; ' and this time he overbore her, 
and her hps met his, as though seeking 
strength for death. A moment, and tlien 
slie knew he had gone from her side — 
whither ? 

She swayed to and fro as dizzy, and 
turned to seek him, only to see him again 
breasting the plunging waters below. His 
coat lay at the foot of the rock, and slu' 
understood he had seized the one faint 
chance of saving both their lives, by trying 
to swim out to the fishing-boat, which 

VOL. I. M 



162 THE LONG LANE 

a])peared to her excited fancy to grow 
liirtlier off each instant. 

' Oh, come back ! ' she sobbed, stretch- 
ing out wide, wild arms, as to call him 
back from that vast, horrible sea. ' Oh 
God, save him ! I love him so ! ' All her 
life seemed in that life which her careless- 
ness had endangered. Would he ever 
reach the boat ? Would the men never see 
him ? And she — she could do nothing but 
strain her eyes, till their strings almost 
cracked in her intense watching of his 
eflbrt, as he climbed with the climbing 
waves. He would never do it. She covered 
lier face in misery, as she lost sight of his 
liead, and scarcely dared to look up again. 
When she did, the boat was tacking ; they 
had seen him, and her lips moved dumbly. 

A mist and dizziness came over her ; 



THE LONG LANE 163 

the sound of the sea surged into thunder 
in her ears ; her only sense was a dim 
agony of rehef. She did not faint, but 
her spent strength failed all at once ; her 
drenched clothes struck chill about her. 
She did not see the rope thrown out to 
Stephen from the boat : was only half 
conscious, when the boat was near her, 
that he lifted her in, the words 'Thank 
God, you are saved ! ' breaking from his 
lips. 



M.2 



164 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTER XI. 

You'll love me yet, and I can tarry 

Your love's protracted growing. — Pipjm Passes. 

She was on board the boat, standing near 
where Stephen was leaning against the 
bows, wrapped in a coat belonging to the 
boat's owner, a weather-beaten, straight- 
featured fisherman who, with his grand- 
son, a lad of about sixteen, composed her 
crew. 

' I am fated to meet you in strancre 
guises,' said Nugent, smiling at Honor, witli 
the happiness which was the gift of that 
strange, stormy baptism of their love. 

But no smile answered him. What did 



THE LOiS'G LAXE 165 

it mean, this stern and absolute despair, 
which her face had never worn on the 
rock, but which fixed its features now? 
Stephen chid himself for his wonder ; 
she was exhausted, overwrought ; and 
perhaps, now that life was won back, 
would have recalled the avowal which had 
made death soft to him. He could trust 
and wait now. He could not see her face, 
it was turned away from him, as she 
watched the fisherman and the boy, while 
they turned the boat and drove straight 
onward to Trebarva, before the wind. 

' It was a narrow shave, sir,' said the 
old man. ' If Ben hadn't seen you when 
he did, you'd scarce 'a been able to reach 
us ; not but you're a good swimmer and a 
strong. It's as much as I'd 'a ventured on, 
when I was young.' 



166 THE LONG LANE 

' Do you come from Lynion or Carn- 
with ? ' asked Nugen^-. 

' No, sir ; we're from the other side of 
the coast. She's a Newlyn boat, as you 
might tell from her build ; ' the hereditary 
pride in his craft was mingled with a cer- 
tain wonder at the ignorance shown in the 
young man's query. ' You'll need some- 
thing though, sir, to keep off the chill, or 
you'll find yourself chattering like a magpie 
— and the lady too. — Where's the whiskey, 
Ben?' he asked his grandson, who, since 
the moment he had espied Stephen swim- 
ming towards the boat, had been in a state 
of open-mouthed amazement, which seemed' 
partly to paralyse his faculties, so that he 
did all his grandfather's biddings as though 
he were sleep-walking, his eyes fixed on 
Stephen and Honor the wliile. 



THE LONG LANE IDT 

' Thank you,' said Stephen. He poured 
out a very small dram from the stone 
bottle Ben handed him, and gave it to 
Honor. ' It will do you good,' he said. 

She lifted her heavy eyes and sh(iok 
her head : ' I can't ! ' she answered. 

' Nonsense ! You are tremblincr from 
cold. Please drink it. That is right,' as 
she obeyed him. ' There, you feel better 
now,' as some colour came back to her lips, 
pale and chill. 

' Yes.' She made an effort to speak, as 
though her utterance were choked, ren- 
dering speech difficult. ' Don't come to 
Trebarva with me now,' she said. ' I — 
come to-morrow — I must see you then.' 

' As you will,' he answered, determined 
not to appear exacting, or wishful for more 
than she was willing to give. He under- 



168 THE LOXG LAXE 

stood what a dream that terrible hour of 
struggle must be to her, as it was to him 
now — although, to him, the deep rapture 
seemed to drown the pain — and he felt she 
might well be loth to realise what she had 
owned then, in the face of death. 

A short while and they reached the 
little cove, whence Honor had but a few 
hours asfo launched her boat. The fishincr- 
boat, for fear of runninij aijround, could 
not come within some yards from the 
shore. 'I must carry you to land,' Stephen 
said. 

She assented mutely, and stretched out 
her hand in thanks and farewell to the old 
fisherman and then to Ben, who appeared 
afraid to take it. 

' Thank the Lord, miss,' said his grand- 
father, ' that your pretty head isn't asleep 



THE LONG I. AXE 169 

under the water this night ; and always 
make a reef-knot when you moor a boat.' 
He had learnt how the accident happened, 
but not through whose fault, and Ben 
spoke out, as stohdly resenting the charge 
aa'ainst Honor. 

' The gentleman didn't say as miss did 
it.' 

' Ah, but I know'd it's only a woman 
would tie up a boat with a slip-knot. 
Have a care, sir, how you get over her 
side. ' All right,' as Stephen, standing 
below, in the surf, stretched out his arms 
to take Honor and carried her to shore. 

'We'll take you back to Lynion now, 
sir,' the old man called out to Nugent, as 
he stood on the beach, watching Honor, 
as she cHmbed up the steep with weary, 
lingering steps. ' Strange,' Nugent thought, 



170 THE LOXG LANE 

as he returned to the boat. The look of 
her eyes, as they parted, haunted him : it 
was hke a smothered sob. 

Ben and his grandfatlier had, after the 
fashion of their kind, begun a hymn. It 
mingled, with more volume than could 
have been expected, with the keen dash of 
the waves round the boat, the sound of the 
wind in the sails, the boy's clear, metallic 
tenor being supported by the second of the 
old man, perfectly true and resonant, and 
upborne by the strange earnestness that 
gives the singing of the Cornish fishermen 
its own peculiar charm ; and so the words 
struck Nuirent's ears. 

Most Holy Spirit, who didst brood 
Upon the chaos dark and rude ; 
Who bidst the angry tumult cease, 
And giv'st for wild confusion, peace — 
Oh, hear us, when we cry to Thee 
For those in peril on the sea ! 



THE LONG LVXE 171 



CHAPTER XII. 

Le mystere de I'existence c'est le rapport de nos erreure 
avec nos peines. — Mdme. de Stael. 

A DREARY day, with the gulls flying low 
over leaden waves touched with sullen 
white; a clouded sky, under which the 
purple of the heather was hke a heavy 
blood-stain soaking into the moors, and 
the grey walls of Trebarva showed each 
weather-mark and orange lichen-stain, as 
scars of ancient fight. 

But no aspect of sea or sky could 
have quenched the gladness of Stephen 
Nugent's heart, as he sped along the coast- 
guard's path, marked by the white stones 
set, from time to time, on the slopes above 



172 THE LOXG LANE 

the cliffs. Honor loved him, he knew that 
now, despite the apparent coldness of her 
manner. Her words had told him so ; and 
her eyes had spoken passionately and 
purely — love. 

He had been little good to the world 
or himself till this time ; but now, was he 
not able to dare all, fight all, vanquish all, 
with her by him ? His thoughts, out- 
stripping his steps, saw her, as she would 
meet him, beautiful — how beautiful ! — in 
her youth, a new sweet shyness softening 
her proud eyes and mouth ; and this vision 
of her face absorbed him, till he reached 
Trebarva. 

The parlour was empty when he 
entered it, but Honor had heard his step 
from above. A minute or two, and 
the door opened and she stood before 



THE LONG LANE ]73 

him. He started forward, then stopped, 
alarmed. 

She wore the soft white dress he had 
loved to see her in, a few evenings ago ; 
but now the yellow lace at the throat 
served only to show the pallor of her face, 
the heavy lids of the eyes, swollen as by 
sleeplessness and tears, the drooped yet 
tightened lines of the mouth. Her very 
gait was altered ; it was dragging and slow. 
This was no girl, but a woman with a long 
heritage of pain, in that desolate aching 
glance wdiich pleaded dumbly for comfort, 
while forbidding Nugent to offer it. 

' I told you to come,' she said, 
' because — because ' 

He w^ould put his fate to the touch, let 
the cost be wdiat it might. 

' Because I love you, Honor, and you 



174 THE LO^'G LANE 

love me. You said so yesterday, when you 
must have spoken the truth. You would 
not have cheated me in death.' 

' No, but then I thought there was no 

hope — that we must die Her voice was 

a long wail of pain, and his heart grew sick 
within him. 

'And now.^ — don't torture me,' he 
spoke almost roughly. 

* I must tell you ; but don't be too 
angry with me. You would make me like 
you,' she went on, half pleading, half 
defiant too. ' I tried not, but it was very 
hard, and each time you were kind, I felt 
it was so good to have a friend. You 
know ' — passionately — ' I did all to prevent 
your being friends with me : I hated your 
coming, I hated liking you — though I never 
thought •' 



THE LOXG LAXE 175 

' Honor, what is it ? What is it ? ' 
' Only you can't judge me ' — he judge 
her, good God ! — ' You don't know what 
hfe is here ; one day grinding on after 
another, and to know it must be the same 
to the end : oh, can't you think ? Then, 
when you came, I was frightened, I did not 
know why, but — I felt it was not safe. I 
didn't dream I could care for you, or you 
for me, this way ; only I knew that when you 
were gone, it would be worse than before, 
and so, if I were wise, I would not let any 
pleasantness come. Oh, why did you care 
for me ! ' 

At the wild outstretching appeal of her 
hands, his own caught them and held them 
closely prisoned against his breast, and his 
words seemed as an echo of her own 
passion. 



176 THE LOXG LANE 

' You couldn't help my loving you, 
Honor : I loved you from the moment I 
saw you coming across the moor.' 

' You did not know,' she said, half 
sobbino; : ' there is nothinc^ in me to love. 
Did I love you too ? ' — her eyes questioned 
him. ' I thought of you always, and was 
angry with myself for being rude, and 
angrier when I was not ; but I only 
thought we were friends — and so — and so, 
it went on.' 

No tears came, and she struggled with 
herself till the sobs were under mastery ; then 
drew her hands away from Stephen's grasp 
and continued, not as before wildly and ex- 
tenuatingly, at broken gasps, but as one 
who has learned a lesson, and a hard one, 
by rote : 

' I must tell you — I wanted to do so 



THE LOXG LANE 1 i t 

very often — on that evening wlien you asked 
me why I worked at mathematics, but T 
couldn't — and now it is my punishment 
and I must ; I have said so all through the 
night. Oh ! ' — and now the tears flooded her 
voice and eyes — ' if I had died yesterday, 
with you, and you had never known ' 

She was half kneehng on the sofa, her 
face hidden ; he could only see how her 
frame was shaking and trembling, how her 
hands clenched closer and closer, as though 
the poor gud sought to strengthen herself 
by the bitter tightening of the fingers on 
the palms. All his heart went forth to 
meet her cry, while he felt her so far from 
him, in her desolate removedness of pain. 

' Nothing can change me ! ' — he could 
say no more ; her pain and shame were his, 
his faith in her was his own. 

VOL. I. X 



178 THE LO^^G LANE 

'Nothing,' at last she answered, 'but 

this Don't look at me ! I can bear you 

to hear me, but that is all ' 

There was a silence in the room, till 
the next words broke it, like a knell on 
Nugent's ear, albeit the tone of her voice. 
the anguish of her eyes, told innocence of 
any shame or sin such as her words might 
have been supposed to imply. 

'I am married, I left my husband, 
— oh, I can't tell you — you couldn't under- 
stand.' 



THE LONG LANE 179 



CHAPTEE Xni. 

Oh dissembling courtesy ! how fine this tyrant 
Can tickle, where she wounds ! — Cymbeline. 

No, he could not understand, nor could slie 
tell him. How should a man comprehend 
tlie passionate revolt by which a girl had 
striven to escape from the wreck of young 
life and hope, which her own fault had 
brought upon her, which had led her to 
this wild coast, where she might rest 
untracked, with the one woman who loved 
and pitied her, and under whose name she 
had sheltered herself? 

Mrs. Eoss had been her governess, when 
she, Honor Denne, the motherless, only 

N '2 



180 THE LONG LANE 

child of a rich man, had been a wilful, 
uniamed little girl, imperious and affection- 
ate, and clinging to her governess with the 
strength of a nature which found few other 
outlets of feeling. Mr. Denne, M.P., was an 
active, ambitious man, spending little time 
at his house in Dorsetshire, and, when at 
home, too absorbed in the work which 
followed him, to devote much leisure to his 
daughter. Sometimes Honor rode with 
him through the leafy lanes and out along 
tlie wide white roads, between the corn- 
fields and the sweet meadow-land ; and in 
tne evening, when he had dined, she came 
in to him, a tall, slim figure in her white 
frock, with that indefinite charm and 
promise of coming womanhood which is 
sometimes the lovely dower of maidens of 
her a«re. Then Mr. Denne would realise 



THE LOXG LAXE ISl 

that Honor would be a beautiful woman — 
he was fond of his child, and meant when he 
was less busy and she was older, to see 
more of her, to make her his companion 
— though not as her mother had been; 

that could not be Ah, if she had but 

lived ! ' 

In the meantime he left Honor growing 
apace like a flower, under sun and rain, 
among the Dorsetshire woods and fields, 
while he went up to London and the 
session. Her life was a happy one, as free 
as a girl's could well be ; perhaps too un- 
trammelled for a maiden of her age, whose 
virtues did not include self-control. She 
was Mrs. Eoss's darling ; and if she was 
rather her governess's ruler than Mrs. Eoss 
was hers, neither of them was aware of it. 
The crentle ladv, with her head full of 



182 THE LONG LANE 

cuneiform inscriptions, was a tender and 
loving friend to the motherless girl, if not a 
severe mentor, and Honor Denne grew up 
wayward, true, and ardent — her nature 
ungoverned, though not unchecked — for 
all life brings some discipline — into a 
damsel of fourteen, whose gracious slender- 
ness and unconscious pride of beauty were 
no longer only a promise. She was child 
and woman at once, and the continual 
contact with Mrs. Boss's studious life had 
given her an odd touch of out-of-the-way 
learning she would otherwise have lacked, 
for books were neglected in the life around 
her — this good life of riding and rambling 
and gardening, skating in winter and 
bathing in summer, in the clear, deep 
trout stream running through the grounds 
of Sheldon. 



THE LONG LAXE 183 

Then one day came strange news — in 
two letters, one to Mrs. Eoss, one to Honor 
— Mr. Denne was engaged, and about to be 
married to a Miss Rainforth. It seemed to 
the child, as she read it, that a great cloud 
had suddenly blotted out the sunlight for 
ever. But of what use was the angry, 
impotent misery that had for its centre the 
instinct that now she would never know 
her father better, as she had thought she 
would do some day ? Oh ! she hated this 
woman — she could not help it, nor did she 
try to do so. 

But she hated her a thousand times 
more w^hen Mr. Denne came down to 
Sheldon to make arrangements for his new 
life, and so the full force of the blow broke 
upon Honor. He and his wife would live 
the greater part of the year in London, and 



184 THE LOXG LANE 

Norali, as he always called his daughter, 
would, of course, be with them. To a 
child who had spent all her life in the 
country, there was a certain excitement in 
this announcement — she had never ex- 
perienced the monotonous prison of a 
London schoolroom, or the dulness of the 
formal walks and dismal trots that would 
replace her free rambles and rides — all this 
was yet in the future. 

But wdien the fact broke on her and 
Mrs. Eoss, that they would be separated, 
Mr. Denne's grave courtesy and gratitude 
and regrets for the necessity, as he informed 
Mrs. Eoss of the fact, had no virtue in 
them to soothe her sorrow, still less to still 
the tumult of OTief and love and indijjnation 
through which all Honor's nature seemed 
fused in one wretched sense of her power- 



THE LOXG LAXE 185 

lessness to help this fate wliich was crush- 
ing her. 

' But, dear,' said jVIts. Eoss, between her 
own tears, ' your father is quite right ; 
'Mis. Denne will wish to have you with 
her' — the girl's eyes lit into angry grey 
fire — ' and you need masters and classes, as 
Mr. Denne says. I am not wanted now.' 
Her voice quivered, and she broke down. 

But Honor did not cry ; she Avas too 
resentful against her father to soften into 
tears. She felt in her soul it was cruelly 
unfair and ungrateful to the friend who 
had filled her mother's place to her so 
long, and was bitterly indignant with the 
woman who was the cause of this wrong. 

' And what will you do ? ' she asked at 
last, hfting her brooding eyes to Mrs. Boss's 
face. 



186 THE LOXG LAXE 

'I thought of that last night. My 
brother is always writing to persuade me 
to go and live with him at the old 
home, Trebarva. He is all alone there 
now, but I never could have left you will- 
ingly.' 

Honor knew well of that grey house set 
against the sea, amidst the leagues of pur- 
ple heather. She had heard, often enough, 
the story of Mrs. Eoss's childhood and youth 
spent there, and how it ended when she 
married the young curate who, for three 
months, had taken the duty of the incum- 
bent nearest to Trebarva, the vicar of 
three or four church towns, each consisting 
of a tiny church and two or three cottages ; 
an innocent pluralist, whose whole income 
was not above two hundred pounds. 

Mr. Eoss had taken his wife far away 



THE LONG LAXE 187 

from Trebarva to the quiet Berkshire 
villa<^e where liis work was set, and since 
then she had only seen the place twice, 
once in the early days of her widowhood, 
once during a summer hohday, when Mr. 
Denne, for a wonder, had taken Honor on 
a short visit to some relations in the North. 
Unconsciously she had lent a glamour to 
her descriptions of the place ; and Tre- 
barva, with its stern lonehness, its summer 
glory of heath and ling, its deep blue sea 
and great many-hued serpentine crags, was 
a romance to Honor. At this moment her 
heart beat fast with an intense longing to 
leave this life, her father and his new wife, 
and throw in her lot with that of Mary 

Eoss. 

And the yearning found expression in a 
vague pledging of the future. 



188 THE LOXG LANE, 



' I shall come to you some day and live 
there with you, if you will let me.' 

The elder woman smiled. ' Mr. Denne 
may object,' she said. 'You would be very 
dull. Trebarva isn't like Sheldon ! ' 

' As if I were ever dull with you ! ' 

' Or with anyone : but you don't know 
much of life yet, dear, or expect much ; 
when you do ' 

' I shall come,' put in the girl, her as- 
sertion growing positive under contradic 
tion ; and when, later on, the new facts of 
her life galled her unexpectedly, and the 
want of Mrs. Eoss's tender affection caused 
her sharp pangs of loneliness, there would 
return the thought of Trebarva, as a 
haven, till it assumed the tenacity of a 
fixed idea. 



THE LOXG LAXE 189 

This was not at first. In spite of Honor's 
indignation, she dared not resist her father, 
when he told her she was to accompany 
him to Miss Kainforth's home, to stay there 
and be a bridesmaid. He thought this 
arrangement, whicli was the expressed wish 
of liis future wife, showed a sweetness and 
wisli to strengthen all the ties of their future 
life, which made him more in love with her 
than ever. Honor herself, with the quick 
delight in beauty which was an instinct of 
her nature, felt her own bitterness and anger 
melt away at the first vision of the exquisite 
creature with fair ruffled hair, in a sweet 
disorder above her loadstar eyes and be- 
witching smile, who stretched out her 
hands to her half beseechingly as she said, 
' Love me a Httle, if you can ; ' and the girl's 



190 THE LONG LANE 

generous nature felt a quick remorse as 
she sealed with a kiss her impulsive ' I 
do.' 

But though Miss Rainforth played her 
part very prettily, none the less was that 
first sight of Honor a shock to her, and one 
from which she did not at once recover. 
Mr. Denne had told her Honor was twelve 
or thirteen, and she had imagined a child ; 
but this tall, slim girl, still unformed, but 
with the dawn flush of beauty giving her 

the charm 

Which sets 
The budding rose above the rose full blown — 

albeit not yet a woman, would soon be one, 
and a grown-up step-daughter — not a fact 
which had entered into Miss Rainforth 's 
theory of her future life, for some years to 
come. It faced her now as a near reality, 



THE LOXG LAXE 191 

and quickened an ignoble grudge which 
she had already conceived against poor 
Honor, without any fault on the girl's 
part. 

Agnes Eainforth was one of those 
women whose affections can apparently find 
no object worthy their devotion among 
human kind, and so fix themselves with the 
more tenacity on inanimate objects. Miss 
Eainforth had never been troubled by that 
feehng which surely brings the heartache 
to those who know it — the blind unreason- 
ing love for man or woman ; but her father 
and her mother felt no lack in her, and if 
her sisters and her brother regarded Agnes's 
marriage as a loss to them which was a 
gain, they kept their conviction secret, and 
were only inwardly amazed and amused at 
the bhndness of a man who could think 



192 THE LONG LANE 

Agnes cared one straw for anybody but 
herself. 

But if she did not care for people, it by 
no means followed she was without affection ; 
to gain the objects whereof she had an in- 
exhaustible store of well-coined pinchbeck, 
with which she could traffic with those 
otherwise uninteresting human beings who 
could give her what she needed. She never 
knew herself how little men and women 
meant to her ; and when, at twenty- six, she 
accepted, with an intense relief, the release 
from the struggle after the good she cared 
for, hampered, as she had been, by a small 
allowance and four younger sisters, she 
quite imagined it was Mr. Denne she loved, 
not his large income or his rising reputa- 
tion in the House. Her lover's grave 
dignity of look and manner, his old family, 



THE LOXG LAXE 193 

liis courteous tenderness to her, all satisfied 
her vanity, so that her flattered self-esteem 
made so good a semblance of love on her 
part as deceived even herself. 

After all these weary years of plotting 
and planning, of mending gloves and re- 
fashioning dresses, with a scanty share of 
help from the one maid, who was well exer- 
cised in the service of Mrs. Eainforth and 
her five daughters, after the strui^crle and 
the constant endeavour to shine down other 
women with far more money than herself, 
and to make 50/. a year do the work of 
150/., it was sweet to Agnes to think these 
hateful days were over for ever. Dress 
was her one constant interest in life, both as 
a pursuit and a means by which her vanity 
could be gratified ; and allied to this primary 
aflection was an offshoot therefrom, Avhicli 

VOL. I 



194 THE LONG LAXE 

had only not grown into a passion from 
her inability, till now, to indulge it in 
the smallest degree — a yearning after 
jewels. 

This was likely to be gratified now ; 
already, when Honor arrived on her visit to 
her future step-mother, Miss Eainforth's 
toilette table bore many dainty morocco 
and russia leather cases, the contents of 
which, three months ago, would have 
sufficed for her entire happiness for the 
time — yet here was the crumpled rose-leaf 
she was powerless to smooth. 

Tlie Eainforths were old acquaintances 
of Mr. Denne's, though till this summer 
he had seen little of them, since his first 
wife's death ; and when he had met Agnes 
Kainforth this year, had been half sur- 
prised into love, by discovering how fair 



THE LOXG LANE 195 

tlie child, lie only vaguely remembered, 
had grown. • But Agnes herself had a 
vivid recollection of a time, twelve years 
before, when Mr. and Mrs. Denne had 
come down to stay with the Eainforths for 
a week, and she, a girl of fourteen — Honor's 
present age — had lingered in her mother's 
dressing-room the evening of a county ball, 
envious of the tv/o girls who were staying 
in the house to go to this dance, under Mrs. 
Eainforth's wincr. 

As they gathered ready dressed, in 
her mother's dressing-room, she hated the 
contrast between her own dingy claret 
merino with its bibbed holland apron, her 
tightly plaited fair hair hanging in two 
tails down her back, and those elder 
maidens' radiant whiteness of satin and 
tulle. Agnes knew she was far prettier 

2 



]96 THE LONG LANE 

really than they were, and it was hateful 
not to look so. She was noticing how 
red Emily Clinton's arms were, when the 
dressing-room door opened again and 
Mrs. Denne appeared. 

Even now Ac^nes could remember every 
detail of the picture she made — this other 
Avoman whose place she was now to fdl — 
standing; in the soft light of the sliaded 
candles and the 2[low of the hre. She was 
all in wliite, the tracery of rare old lace 
ffivinfr richness to lier satin and brocade ; 
her dark hair w^as swept up in one coil at 
the top of h.er head, above the pale beautiful 
face ; and on the front of her dress and 
starring her hair, winding round her arms 
and shining on her neck and slioulders, like 
streams of glittering water, diamonds flashed 
and dazzled into liglit. 



THE LOXG LANE 197 

Mrs Kainforth turned round with an 
exclamation of delight and surprise. 

' How good of you,' she said, ' to put 
them on ! I wanted to see them so.' 

'A penny peep-show,' answered Mrs. 
Denne, and Jier voice was very sweet 
and low — ' but Arthur likes me to wear 
them.' 

' They must be very valuable,' said 
Mrs. Eainforth, remembering the cost of 
her one or two small brooches, the light 
of which had waned before Mrs. Denne's 
radiance. 

' Yes ; but you know they were my 
share of my uncle's property ; he left all 
else to my brother. I always told Arthur 
it was a shame they should be so useless 
to him ; but he likes them, so it doesn't 
matter.' 



108 THE LOXG LAXE 

All this Agnes neither understood nor 
cared about; but the dazzle of those 
diamonds remained with her as a memory 
for ever ; and had been an unconscious 
factor in the shy, soft gladness of the 
murmur with which her head sank on to 
Mr. Denne's shoulder as he gathered her 
into his arms, thanking her with a fervent 
kiss, for promising to fill the blank in his 
life with her youth and grace and sweet- 
ness — to be his wife and a mother to his 
child. 

' Though you will be more like her 
elder sister,' he added tenderly. 

Some time afterwards he brought her as 
an offering a diamond star, beautiful but 
solitary ; and, as she delighted over it, 
taking it to be the lierald of its brethren, 
she remembered so well he said — 



THE LONG LANE 199 

' Are you fond of cliamonds ? I wish 1 
liad some like Honor's for you ! ' 

A sick chill of disappointment struck 
through her. ' Honor's ? ' she questioned. 

' Yes ; my wife's — that her uncle left 
her — they w^ere entailed on her child.' 
A";nes mustered sufficient self-control to 
ask lightly — 

' Are they very wonderful ? ' 

' They are rather fine, and if Honor has 
no taste for them, which is hardly likely, 
they would reahse a small fortune. They 
are worth about eight or nine thousand, 
whicli is pretty well for a young woman in 
her state of life.' 

Her jealous heart cried silently, ' They 
ought to be mine ; ' but she only asked — 

' AVhen will she have them ? ' 

^ Not till she is twenty- one, unless she 



200 THE LONG LANE 

marries.' Acrnes wondered if she miixlit 
not at least have the enjoyment of them 
for some years ; but Mr. Denne's next 
words dissipated this ilhision. ' Tliey are 
not in my keeping, but in that of her 
mother's trustees. What are you thinking 
of, Agnes?' he asked jestingly, admiring 
the sweet pensiveness of her fair oval face, 
bent over liis gift. ' Are you afraid your 
new daughter will shine you down ? ' 

He had hit the mark without knowino- 
it, for that hour had sown the germ of a 
bitter, jealous dislike to Honor in Miss 
Eainforth's mind. 

Yet, as step-mother, no foult could be 
found with her. True, directly she re- 
turned with her husband from their 
wedding journey, at the end of a dull 
October day, to the new house in Bryan- 



THE LONG LANE 201 

ston Square, Avliere Honor was waiting 
them, she ground down the girl's Hfe into 
almost an exa^'i^eration of the usual formal 
schoolroom routine ; but then, as she 
said, the poor child had been allowed to 
run so wild that this was necessary, and 
her manner to Honor was always sweet 
and caressinix, even while she bound her 
every hour to a burden of duties and 
studies, masters and dull walks with a 
daily governess ; whose chief duty was to 
superintend Honor's actions, and see that 
she duly prepared the succession of 
exercises and studies demanded by one 
master and another. 

' I feel like a tyrant,' moaned Agnes to 
her husband. ' But you don't know how 
much she needs, and she has so little time 
now in which to make up for all she has 



202 THE LONG LAXE 

lost ; l^esides, she is quite undisciplined — 
she has never learned to obey.' 

So Honor sickened and wearied of her 
life in the dull back room appointed as 
schoolroom, with tlie rare relaxation of a 
drive with Aijnes now and then in the 
afternoon ; or of an hour spent in the 
drawins-room after dinner, if Mr. and Mrs. 
Denne were alone and not o-oincr out in 
the eveninsf. She saw less of her fatlier 
than she had ever done ; and though, with 
her straightforward heart-honesty, the girl 
believed her step-mother had only set her 
into this dull monotony of life, which 
Honor saw was much the same as was led 
by most of the girls of lier aoje around 
her, because she thouoht it needful, still 
when Mrs. Denne woidd come softly into 
the schoolroom, and putting her arm round 



THE LONG LAXE 203 



Honor's neck, as she sat witli fliisliecl face 
and puzzled brows over a stiff German 
translation, would murmur, ' Poor little 
girl, it does seem hard on you,' the girl's 
memory would go back to Sheldon with a 
rush of longing. She almost panted for 
the cool shadow of the trees and the light 
and sound of the stream, for Mrs. Eoss's 
voice, for liberty and affection : how sorely 
she loncred for these, none could know. 

Mrs. Denne was right on one point ; 
Honor never had learnt obedience : it was 
a question if she were learning it now. A 
year went on ; the Dennes were back at 
Sheldon, and Honor was enjoying a faint 
shadow of her old life — sadly marred by 
the constant companionship of a German 
governess, prone to a guttural enthusiasm 
over the aesthetic symbolism of nature — 



204 THE LONG LANE 

when Agnes's baby came and proved to be 
a boy, to Mr. Denne's intense satisfaction 
and liis wife's secret triumph. Honor v»rould 
not inherit Sheldon now. 

Mrs. Denne betrayed lierself unwit- 
tingly to her step-daughter, on the day the 
girl first came into lier room after the 
baby's birth with a bunch of autumn 
violets in her hand, which she laid on the 
pillow, by Agnes's pale, pretty head. 

' Thank you, darling, how sweet of you ! ' 
said Mrs. Denne ; then, with a languid 
movement of the head, ' Nurse, show Miss 
Denne lier brother.' 

A small bundle of snowy flannels, from 
which peeped out an exceedinijly red tiny 
face, puckered up as though about to 
sneeze or cry, was laid in Honor's arms, and 
she held it a httle awkwardly. She had 



THE LOXG LAXE 205 

never liked babies, but this small thing was 
so helpless and strange to her, that a new 
womanly instinct of pity and protection and 
tenderness stirred within her which made 
her intense eyes almost fateful in their 
depth. Agnes misunderstood them ; her 
superficial tact led her wrong ; and read- 
ing Honor's nature by her own, she said 
with a smile, ' You are not angry with him 
for taking your place ? ' 

Honor did not understand at once ; 
then a liaht broke in on her, illuming more 
facts than one ; she looked straight at her 
step-mother, surprised and hurt, with some- 
thincf hke scorn underlyinc^ her astonish- 
ment. ' No,' she answered, her voice 
vibratincf. Aiznes saw she had made a 
mistake, and she shrunk back from that 
clear, piercing glance, with a new dislike. 



206 THE LOXG LANE 

' I knew you were too generous, dear,' slie 
said ; but that did not heal Honor's pride 
at being suspected of a baseness which had 
no part in her. 

Six months later, Mr. and Mrs. Denne 
had taken advanta<]fe of the Whitsuntide 
recess to go on a week's visit to Paris, and 
Honor was usinij^ one of the mornings of 
her brief Whitsun holiday to scribble a 
lengthy, rambling, untidy letter to Mrs. 
Koss, far away at that unknown Trebarva, 
wlien she was interrupted by a telegram 
from Paris. 

Mr. Denne was dead; had died of 
diphtheria ; was to be buried in Paris. 
Honor's grief stunned her ; she had clung 
to her father more than she had ever 
shown. It must be untrue ! life could not 
be cruel and leave her so utterly alone. 



THE LO}CG LANE 207 

There was no one who felt much for 
tlie poor child in her misery. Agnes, 
widowed so early, with her tliroat white 
against the blackness of her weeds, and the 
5^ellow of her hair gleaming through the 
long misty head-dress, more like maiden's 
veil than widow's cap, sat with her baby in 
lier arms, in the dim light of her boudoir, 
and quickly and irresistibly touched the 
liearts of all who saw her thus. One 
person wdio, perhaps, did not feel the pathos 
and picturesqueness of Mrs. Denne's pose 
and attire w^as her younger sister, Theo 
Eainforth, who had come up from the 
country with her mother in answer to 
Agnes' summons, and who, while Mrs. 
Eainforth and her elder daughter cried in 
company, sat by them, impassive and 
apparently unsympathising. 



208 THE LONG LANE 

' Of course slie is very sorry to lose 
him,' ran her thoii2:hts : ' he o-ave her 
everything she wanted, and was kind and 
good-looking, and always telling her, in one 
way or another, how charming she was. 
She must miss him dreadfully, but it won't 
be for lonf^.' 

' Where's Honor ? ' Theo asked bluntly, 
as Mrs. Denne, after a gush of tears, 
stretched forth her hand to her, and mur- 
mured, with a faint smile quivering on her 
lips, that it was ' so good of her to come 
with mamma.' 

' I don't know,' responded Agnes ; ' I 
saw her this morning. She suffers ver}' 
much, poor dear, and can't bear to see my 
sorrow. I fancy she is a little jealous of it ; 
but that is natural — I love her for havinL*' 
loved her father.' 



THE LONG LANE 209 

' I will go and find her,' said Miss Eain- 
forth ; and Agnes, as Theo left the room, 
reflected as she had done once or twice 
before on her sister's coldness. 

Theo went straight to the schoolroom, 
where she found Honor — asleep. The 
fire had burned low, and on the rug, 
before it, lay the girl, at full length, her 
head thrown back and resting on a foot- 
stool. Her rich-hued hair was tossed and 
disordered ; her thick black gown, with its 
heavy folds of crape, lacked, for all its 
newness, the freshness which marked 
Agnes's yet more sombre garb. 

Miss Eainforth stood looking at ]ier, 
loth to awake her, and with a gentle sym- 
pathy in her face Mrs. Denne's grief had 
not called there. 'How handsome she 
is, even Uke this ! ' she thought ; ' and 

VOL. I. p 



210 THE LOXG LANE 

liow jealous Agnes will be of her in 
two or three years ! ' Theo had had 
experience of this phase of her sister's 
nature. 

She was turning softly away, when 
Honor woke with a start ; but on seeing 
Theo, a momentary gladness crossed her 
face. She did not know much of her, 
but there was a truth of nature in Theo 
which Honor's own truth answered, and 
she was sure Theo liked her, though she 
wondered why. 

Only she needed no pity. Even if 
every one were sorry for her, what good 
would it be ? ' When did you come ? ' she 
asked. 

Theo, before answering, deliberately 
poked the fire, swept the hearth, and then 
sat down by Honor. The new-born blaze 



THE LOXG LANE 211 

flickered cheerfully on both tlieir faces ; 
tlien she said — 

' A little while ago ; mamma is with 
Agnes, and I came up here to find you. 
I am sorry, though, I woke you.' 

'It doesn't matter,' answered Honor 
heavily. 'I don't know how I dropped 
off; I didn't sleep much last night.' 

' I can see that,' said Theo, a kindly 
tenderness in her voice which softened 
Honor. 

'You know,' she said, 'I forget for a 
minute, and then it all comes back, and 
I can't cry, but it burns my eyes like 
fire.' 

' You have cried quite enough, you 
poor child. I hate tears ; Agnes is crying 
downstairs. Do you know what she means 

P2 



212 THE LOXG LANE 

to do ? ' She asked the question to 
distract Honor's mind. 

' She says she shall go abroad scon to 
Italy or Germany, but it isn't decided 
yet.' 

'And send you to school, I suppose?' 
Theo's inflection was not complimentary 
to Agnes. 

' No, papa put in his will that I was not 
to go to any school ; he did not like them. 
I think mamma means to take me with 
her.' She spoke drearily, listlessly, as 
thou<di it mattered little to her, but Miss 
Eainforth had some ado to prevent a pity- 
ing shrug of her shoulder at Honor's pro- 
spects. She did not envy her the fate of 
being the one home companion of Agnes's 
widowhood in a strancfe land. 

But in any case she saw little chance 



THE LOXG LAXE 213 

of Honor's lot beino; enviable for the next 
few years ; so she answered as cheerfully 
as she could, ' Well, that will be plea- 
santer than staying in London.' 

Honor did not respond at once; then 
she said, with her eyes fixed on the iire- 



glow- 



' I wish mamma would let me 2:0 to 
Trebarva.' 

' Where on earth is that ? ' 

'Where Mamie — Mrs. Ross — I have 
told you about her — lives — in Cornw^all.' 

' My dear child, Agnes would never 
hear of such a thing ; you may set your 
heart at rest as to that. I dare say she ' — 
' would like it,' Miss Rainforth was nearly 
saying, but she checked herself and went 
on — ' might allow it, if the world wouldn't 
say it was wrong of her, and that she 



214 THE LOXG LAXE 

neglected you ; but every one would do 
so, and Agnes is so sure all she does is 
right, she wants other people to be sure 
of it as well. I wish I were not leavino- 
England for so long.' 

' Are you going away ? ' asked Honor 
wonderingly. 

' To India ; I am engaged to be married. 
Honor ; I came partly to tell you, only it 
seemed unkind when you are so unhappy.' 
There was a beautiful oladness in Theo's 
face that made it lovely, and her voice 
sweet ; and to the j^ounger girl, who had 
never before been face to face with this 
love, Theo's few words were as a revealinjr 
of something unknown and wonderful, and 
very far away from her. It was the first 
momentary glimpse of Love's paradise 
cauglit tlirough the opening gate, a possi- 



THE LONG LANE 215 

bility of life never realised before, never 
likely to be a living truth in her own. 

'I am glad,' she said to Theo, with 
grave, awed eyes and bated breath. 



216 THE LOXG LANE 



CHAPTER XV. 

Like Alexander I will reign, 

And I will reign alone ; 
My soul did evermore disdain 

A rival near my throne. — Montrose. 

So Honor went abroad with A^nes and the 
child ; and Theo Rainforth, now Mrs. Searle, 
sailed for India with her husband. She 
did not forget the girl, and wrote to her 
from time to time ; and whenever her letters 
arrived they were hailed by a fine smile 
fi'om Mrs. Denne, and some such remark 
as — ' Theo is constant still to her fancy for 
you, Honor. I am so glad: I have never 
known any of her likings last so long.' 

But such speeches, only an example of 



THE LOXG LAXE 217 

many others of the same kind about other 
people, did not shake Honor's faith in her 
friend. By tliis time she had gauged 
Agnes in some ways, and had learnt to 
resist her power of insinuating that no 
one was really and faithfully fond of 
Honor ; if one seemed to be so it was 
from caprice, or kindness, or self-interest. 
Honor clung loyally to her faikh in Theo, 
albeit she knew tlie latter's hking for her 
could be but a very small fact in the young 
wife's life. But Agnes's tactics did their 
work in regard to other people ; the girl 
grew to feel herself an Ishmael, with every 
one's hand against her, and to think that 
tlie persons she knew were ready to say 
unkind things and think unkind thoughts, 
till with the sore, hurt pain of youth, 
when taught to distrust what had seemed 



218 THE LOXG LAXE 

SO winning and so kind, she felt, too, that 
her hand was against every one. 

Acfnes never told a deliberate untrnth ; 
she only encouraged criticism of Honor 
from her crowd of dear friends and lari^jer 
crowd of dear acquaintances, who, as Mrs. 
Denne's grief passed from sadness into 
tender memory, drew her back into life, 
and made her remember she was still 
young and prettier than ever. She knew 
many women, whose tact made them 
sensible that a discriminatinir. and of course 
kindly criticism of her step-daughter, 
would not be unwelcome to her. Such 
comments repeated to Honor, half laugh- 
ingl}^, half gravely, sometimes as being 
absurd, sometimes as a warning, but al- 
ways skilfully and delicately exaggerated, 
became censure under wdiich the cirl 



THE LOXG LAXE 219 

winced ; and being too proud to show 
her hurt, she grew farouche, shy and re- 
pellent. 

Despite this, Mrs. Denne was aware that 
her step-daughter would be, nay, was, a 
rival near lier throne, Avhose constant pre- 
sence would gall her intolerably. Had 
Honor been of a meaner nature, and know^n 
how Agnes was sometimes irritated almost 
past bearing by some chance look or speech 
of friend or admirer devoted to herself, 
which told how beautiful the girl had 
grown, she might have tasted the sweets 
of revenge ; but as it was, she only knew 
she w\as wretched. 

So two years passed on, the winters 
SDent at Florence and Eome, the summers 
at Homburg, the autumns at Deauville or 
Etretat. Agnes said it was so good for 



220 THE LONG LAXE 

Honor's education, ignoring the fact that 
she herself was freer from the trammels of 
widowhood abroad than she would have 
been at home. But now that Mrs. Denne's 
mourning was over, she yearned for London 
and her own house, for the warmth and 
prettiness and comfort, for which she had 
a cat-like affection. 

She made up her mind that if, for the 
present, there must be bitterness mingled 
in her drauo;ht of life, arisinof from the 
presence of a younger and fairer woman 
by her side, who must in many eyes eclipse 
Iier, slie would drain the cup heroically, 
and give no reason for people to sneer 
or laugli, or say tliat she was jealous of 
Honor, and kept lier back. In resolving 
this, she felt ]ier own magnanimity and 
superiority to her own idea of the race of 



THE LO^'G LA^'E 221 

women, so that tears stood in lier eyes as 
she reflected how perfectly her duty to her 
step-daughter had been fulfilled. 

Honor should come out this year, in- 
stead of waiting till she was nineteen, as 
Mrs. Denne had formerly intended. She 
was a strange girl, poor dear, thought 
Agnes, and would be far happier married. 
A husband mio-ht understand her, as she, 
she owned with a sigh, could not do. Mrs. 
Denne's own heart, conscious of her own 
charm of very womanhood. Avhich men 
found so exquisite, felt a soft pity for the 
rash man who shoidd incline to link his 
life with that intractable, fearless creature, 
whose eyes would look a defiance of which 
Agnes herself was afraid ; and who, lacking 
the arts which are instincts to some women, 
was scornful of them when exercised by 



222 THE LOXG LANE 

others. Beautiful as Honor was, would 
any man wed her, even with her fortune ? 
— for Mr. Denne had provided well for his 
daughter, and Agnes's memory still ached 
jealously when she remembered those 
diamonds. She could see how Honor's 
fairness would be illumined by their 
white fire ; yet it was no use putting off 
the evil day which must come, and with a 
supreme effort, Agnes made up her mind. 
One morning, as Honor entered their room 
in the hotel at Marseilles, where they 
were stajdng on their way to England, she 
smiled at her, saying, ' I have a surprise 
for you.' 

Honor was carrying her little brother 
on her back, an amusement both she and 
the child enjoyed, but the gladness of Iier 
eyes hardened, and she unclasped Master 



THE LONG LAXE 223 

Lionel's tiny liands from round her neck 
as she said, ' Have you, mamma ? ' 

' Don't you want to know what it is ? ' 
asked Agnes, feeUng as aggrieved as the 
fairy godmother might have done, had Cin- 
dereha expressed no wish to go to the balL 

' You know I never can guess what you 
mean.' Honor scarcely intended a sarcasm ; 
but Agnes lieard in her words the presage 
of a future wlien they two would be more 
equally matched, woman to woman, and 
war would be more probable than peace 
between them ; but she kept these things in 
her heart. 

' You are not over-gracious, Norah,' she 
returned, the pique in her voice just evi- 
dent, as though, after seeing her way to 
a concession she had thought would delight 
Honor, she had met with an unmerited 



224 THE LOXG LANE 

rebuff. ' Never mind ; I only wanted to 
tell you I mean you to come out this 
spring, instead of next year. Now are 
you pleased, you strange girl ? ' She put 
her arm round her step-daughter's waist, 
looking up in her face with that winning 
smile which had once charmed Honor, and 
in which now she had no belief. 

' I don't know,' was all the reply. 

' The Sphinx was nothing to you,' re- 
torted Agnes, baffled by this obstinate 
ingratitude and insensibility to her eflbrts 
to please. ' Perhaps you will condescend 
to be interested in your court dress, as it 
isn't a month till the May drawing-rooms. 
I think of pale amber for myself. That 
faint green-blue I love, they say will be so 
much worn this year — which means it will 
be horribly common.' 



THE LONG LAXE 225 

Honor made no reply ; Agnes's an- 
nouncement had caused her a curious 
thrill, though she had shown no sign 
thereof. So she was a woman at last ! 
Outside in the April sunshine was the 
laughing spring greenness, and in the 
garden below, a line of jonquils were nod- 
ding their heads in the soft breeze. In the 
fastnesses of the leaves a nightingale was 



singing, singing, singing ; and something in 
the girl trembled back an answer to the 
promise and passion and pain of the song, 
whose meaning was as yet untold to her, 
which might translate itself in such dif- 
ferent ways. The song wdiich, as Heine 
told us, the angels call heaven's gladness, 
the fiends hell's pain ; while men name it — 
Love ! 

VOL. I. , Q 



226 THE LOXG LAXE 



CHAPTER XV. 

Form wliat resolution you "will, matrimony will be tlie 
end on't. — Trip to Scarborough, 

If Honor had really looked forward to her 
first season in town as the emancipation 
from a thousand worrying little cords by 
which Agnes managed to control her every 
action, she would have been disappointed. 
But the quick capacity for pleasure whicli 
w^as re-awakened within her by this new life 
onlv increased the irritation of her real 
want of freedom, the sense that slie must 
act in every matter as Agnes willed it. 

Mrs. Denne had never said to herself 
that a perpetual chafing against as constant 
a constraint would make the girl the more 



THE LONG LAXE 227 

easer to avail herself of the first chance of 
escape from her real, yet intangible thral- 
dom; she had never even owned in thon^ht 
how intense a relief to her it would be to 
get rid of Honor. She only vaguely 
assured herself that marriage would be the 
best thing for her husband's daughter, and 
her nature instinctively carried out the 
course of action most likely to bring about 
this ' consummation so devoutly to be 
wished,' both for Honor and herself. 

It did not seem a difficult one to achieve. 
Agnes was surprised and piqued to find 
how strong an attraction for men lay in 
tlie girl, whose grey eyes looked back into 
theirs, untroubled and unstirred by any 
shadow of the feeling they would fain liave 
awakened. Her fairness was rare enouo-h 
to make its conquest and possession a 

Q 2 



22 S THE LONG LANE 

triumph; and if some men's admiration 
was frozen by that virginal coldness, with 
others it burned the more, kindling a passion 
no facile sweetness of look and tone would 
ever have awakened within them. There 
was one man especially for whom it had 
the dramatic charm of contrast, and he, 
Agnes saw, would be the likeliest for her 
purpose. He did not like her. she was as 
instinctively aware of that as she was that 
Honor, with her beauty of face and form 
and ignorance of her own attractions, had 
stirred within him a more passionate desire 
and resolution tlian had been his for 
years. 

Honor kn*^w nothing of this ; and 
though the thought of him crossed her 
mind as, one evening, she stood before the 
glass in the drawing-room at Bryanston 



THE LOXG LAXE 229 

Square, ready dressed for a large ball to 
which she and Agnes were going that 
evening, it was with no idea of the ultimate 
consequences which were present to Mrs. 
Denne's mind. She knew his step suited 
hers, that he liked to dance with her, and 
reflected with satisfaction that she was 
certain of enjoying at least some short part 
of her evening. She was altering the 
arrangement of the flowers on her bodice 
when Agnes entered, with her soft, cool, 
critical glance, and the girl, who had had 
a half-unconscious pleasure in her own fair 
image in the glass, felt suddenly too tall 
and gawky and unformed, as she noted 
the finished grace and air of every line of 
Mrs. Denne's toilette. 

She had no need to be dissatisfied with 
herself. Her step-mother's conscience would 



230 THE LONG LANE 

not have let her rest if anyone could 
have imputed defects in Honor's attire as 
being due to jealousy or neglect on her 
part. Miss Denne's dress was faultless — as 
faultless as was Agnes's own ; and thouscli 
Honor could not see it, the tall crirUsh 
form in its vaporous draperies of softest 
yellow, guiltless of ornament save for a 
huge bouquet of yellow azaleas, and clusters 
of the same blossoms nestling in the knot 
of liair and heightening the whiteness of 
the neck, eclipsed Agnes's smaller and 
slenderer grace, admirably set off as it was 
by her black lace with its jet-encrusted 
cuirass, and the heavy fire-red pomegranate 
blossoms, set like flames on her fair hair 
and her bodice, and fastened to her huge 
scarlet fan. Agnes noted Honor's flowers, 
but said nothing. 



THE LONG LANE 2ol 

' They are the two best turned-out 
Avomen here,' observed a young man in 
a tone of authority, as Mrs. Denne and 
Honor entered Lady Fenwick's ball-room. 

The man already mentioned, a little way 
back, who w^as standing by him, turned 
round with a not over-pleased expression, 
as of one wdio fears his preserves may be 
poached on. 

' Who ? ' he asked, laconically and not 
over-amiably. 

' Why, the tall girl, you know, over 
there in the yellow frock. Hang it, you 
don't expect a fellow to remember names ! 
1 can't get on with her a bit, though,' con- 
tinued the youth in a somewhat aggrieved 
tone : ' she has nothing in her.' 

' Think not ? ' said his friend ; ' I sup- 
pose the step-mother suits you better.' 



232 THE LONG LANE 

'Eather. Now that is what I call a jolly 
little woman; just the right sort; dances 
Al and talks well, and as good as gold too. 
I can tell you she cuts up pretty rough, if 
a man tries it on, by saying anything he 
shouldn't.' 

' You have tried it on, I see,' said the 
other with not very caustic satire, and 
moving across to where Honor was talking 
to another lady, a pretty, sweet-looking 
married woman of five or six and twenty. 
Agnes was already waltzing ; and Honor's 
partner, standing by her, was engaged in 
the arduous task of fastening the four 
buttons of his jjlove. 

Something in Miss Denne's pure, grave 
gaze for a moment touched tlie young 
man, who was really in love with her in his 
own way, as with a breath of morning air 



THE LONG LANE 233 

untainted and calm. 'By Jove,' he thought, 
' I should like to see any fellow daring to 
try it on by saying anything he shouldn't 
to her. She'd make him feel small, just 
because she wouldn't understand it.' 

'How do you do, Mrs. Strahan?' he said 
to the lady by Honor. ' Miss Denne,' as 
Honor put out her hand in greeting, ' can 
you let me have a dance ? ' 

' Oh yes, my card i? very blank.' She 
held it to him. 

'Then may I take two? Thanks awfully. 
Number 4 — that's the next — and 10.' 

' Thank you,' said Honor ; and then her 
partner, having succeeded in conquering 
the last refractory button, turned to her, 
and Mrs. Strahan being also claimed, the 
young man did not go further afield in 
search of other partners, but contented 



2P)4 THE LONG LAXE 

liimself with somewhat moodily watching 
the hojht imtired o-race of the tall and 
supple figure in its pale clouds of daft'odil- 
hued tulle. ' Stacey is about right, 
thoufjli,' he thouo-ht: 'she is the best turned- 
out girl here : it isn't only that she's the 
best-looking one by a long way, but she's 
so thorouEjhbred. She only wants to 
know her own value, and then she could 
give them all a beating I believe that 
little woman bullies her awfully.' 

But Honor was far from knowins^ her 
own value, as he phrased it ; perhaps it 
was this very fact which gave her the 
charm he recognised of unlikeness to the 
other girls around her. She was unlike, 
certainly, and the fierce innocence of her 
beauty had somewhat of the untamed 
wild grace of a fawn or other creature of 



THE LO^"G LANE 235 

the woods. As she stood when the young 
man came up to clahn her, her eyes 
shining, but her cheeks unflushed and her 
lips set cahnly and proudly, he felt him- 
self that his hour had arrived, and he was 
bent on having this girl for his wife. 

'I am glad you have come,' he said. 
' It was so late, I had almost given you up. 
And thank you so much.' 

' What for ? ' said Honor. 

' For wearing my flowers. I was rather 
in a funk lest they shouldn't suit your 
dress ; but they look very jolly ; just 
right.' 

For a moment Miss Denne looked puz- 
zled, then a httle troubled and haughty ; 
but her simplicity stood her in as good 
stead as knowledge of the world would 
have done. 



236 THE LONG LANE 

' Was it you sent them ? ' she said. ' I 
thought when they were brought to me 
tliat mamma had ordered them, as she 
always sees to my dress, and the one thing 
slie knows I won't wear is artificial 
flowers ; so she is very good, and lets me 
liave fresh ones. It was very kind of you, 

and they are beautiful ; but ' she 

paused for a moment, the young girl's 
natural pleasure in the tribute, which seems 
of all the most natural, struggling with 
the inborn pride and reserve of her nature. 

' But what ? Please don't look at me 
like that, or I shall think you are angry 
with me.' 

' No ; it was very kind of you ; but ' — 
with a slight uprearing of her white neck 
— ' I would rather you liad not.' Her 
shyness made her tone cold. 



THE LOXG LANE 237 

« I wish ! ' he paused. ' Make things 

even,' he said, ' and pay me.' There was 
a small spray of his gift, the yellow azaleas, 
which had fallen from Honor's shoulder 
and was lying at their feet. He stooped 
and picked it up. ' May I have it ? ' he 
asked, feehng somewhat audacious, though 
with most women he would not have 
stopped to ask permission. 

Honor was rather troubled ; she had 
an instinct which prompted her to forbid 
the appropriation of the flowers, which she 
alone of all the women in the room wore 
prominently ; but she was very young, and 
very shy, for all the pride of her fresh love- , 
liness, and was horribly afraid of making 
a fuss over what might be a trifle, entirely 
in accordance with the ways of the world. 
Mrs. Strahan, who was standing close by 



238 THE LONG LANE 

and saw the whole httle scene, understood 
it and was amused ; yet felt a womanly 
tender trouble and pity for Honor, as the 
girl's partner flung away the pink carna- 
tion from liis coat, and carefully inserted 
in its place the tiny cluster of honey- 
coloured blossoms. 

' She doesn't know what people will 
say, poor child,' she thought. ' I suppose 
he is in earnest ; he looks so,' 

The pleasure of dancing was keen to 
Honor ; so keen that it had caused her two 
or three times before to for^^^et or disreiiard 
Agnes's injunctions as to how often she was 
to dance with one man ; and it so happened 
that of all those whom slie had met, her 
present partner was the most entirely 
satisfactory. The consequence was, that 
when at the end of tlie present waltz he 



THE LONG LANE 239 

pleaded for the next, she dehberated — and 
was lost. ' Do give it me,' he pleaded. ' It 
is Les Lointains. Don't you remember, it 
was the same, when we found out at the 
Millers' how well we went together ? ' 

Whether this fact were invented on the 
spur of the moment. Honor never knew ; 
but their steps did accord excellently well, 
and in the enjoyment of the perfect rhythm 
and movement, she grew heedless and 
dai'incf of the rebuke which she knew 
would await her from Agnes's dove-like eyes 
and voice. The instinct of rebelhon had 
seized her ; she would do what she chose, 
happen what might. 

She acted in pursuance of this Rabe- 
laisan motto, when the waltz came to an 
end, and her partner said, ' Well ! our 
next is number lU ; that will be about 



240 THE LONG LAXE 

supper-time — will you be kind ? You ouglit 
to, for you snubbed me horribly about 
those flowers.' 

' How ? ' 

' By saying it was Mrs. Denne who had 
thought of them, when I had taken all 
the trouble to remember you had a yellow 
frock.' 

Honor laughed. ' Have you a bad 
memory ? ' she asked. 

' Awfully ; but you haven't answered 
my question.' 

' You haven't asked it ' — the girl felt 
nervous ; she could not have told why. 

' I want you to let me have all the 
extras ; we needn't dance them, you know.' 

' But I want to dance,' said Miss Denne 
in a somewhat affronted tone. 

' Oh, that's all the better, then. I have 



THE LOXG LAXE 241 

never met anyone I went so well with, 
except ' the young man checked him- 
self with alarming suddenness. 

'Except whom?' asked Honor mechanic- 
ally, as she saw her next partner, young 
Stacey, advancing, and consulted her card. 

' Oh, no one you ever heard of.' The 
reply was slightly confused, and as Honor 
and Mr. Stacey moved away, her late 
partner heaved a sigh of relief. 

' What the devil made me say that ? ' 
he muttered to himself. ' However, if only 
she says yes, that's all over for good ; ' 
with which reflection he went off in search 
of the supper-room for a devilled sandwich 
and champagne. 

It was scarcely to be supposed that 
Agnes was not watching Honor's move- 
ments ; she was noting them with a jealous 

VOL. I. E 



242 THE LOXG LAXE 

bitterness whicli went far to mar the 
sweetness of the reflection that the end 
she Avas working for — the freeing herself 
of Honor — was on a fair way to be ob- 
tained. The young man, whose devo- 
tion to her step-daughter had been noted 
before to-niglit, was so entirely desirable 
in the eyes of many women, that Mrs. 
Denne felt it was hard Honor should 
monopohse him. He was very well off, 
well-born and good-looking, and Agnes felt 
that fate had dealt unfairly by her. 

Still the dock leaf grew near the nettle. 
Her own approving conscience, if Honor 
made such a marriage in her very first 
season, would be strengthened by the con- 
gratulations of her friends, and the as- 
surance that very few mothers could have 
attended so well to the girl's interests ; and 



THE LOXG LAXE 243 

this gave her strength to smile amiably as 
after supper Honor again passed her fleetly, 
her steps guided by the young man, whose 
button-hole still wore her badge of the 
yellow azalea. 

' Naughty child,' observed Mrs. Denne 
sweetly to Mrs. Strahan. ' I must scold 
her well for flirting in this way — and 
giving away her flowers, too ! ' 

' I don't think she is flirting,' said the 
other lady drily, ' at least, when I saw 
them, it seemed to be all on his side ; and 
as to the flowers, I was witness to their 
exchange. Miss Denne could not help 
it.' 

' Wait till your own girls grow up, my 
dear ; and then you will know what an 
anxiety they are,' was Agnes's answer. 
' Honor, child,' as Miss Denne and her 

K 2 



244 THE LOXG LANE 

partner halted near her, ' don't you think 
it is nearly time for us to be going ? ' 

' Oh, one dance more, Mrs. Denne ? ' 
pleaded the young man. 

Agnes hesitated, but decided that the 
restrictive policy would be the wisest. It 
also suited best with her present mood, 
especially as her partner for the next 
waltz had, as she knew, left some time 
before. ' I think she lias had quite enough 
dancing,' she answered, witli a honeyed 
smile. 

' But we may finish this ? ' 

Mrs. Denne nodded a gay assent. ' I 
trust to your honour,' she said, ' to come 
back directly it is over.' 



THE LOXG LAXE 245 



CHAPTER XVL 

A weary lot is thine, fair maid, 

A weary lot is thine, 
To pull the thorns thy brow to braid 

And press the rue for wine. 
A lightsome gait, a soldier's mien, 

A feather of the blue, 
A doublet of the Lincoln green. 
No more of me you knew, my dear, 

No more of me you knew. — Scoxi. 

For all her sweetness overnight, Agnes, 
true to her tactics, found fault the next 
day with Honor for her unwitting sins 
against conventionalities. She chose her 
own time for the little lecture, waiting till 
after lunch, when, as she said to herself, she 
felt equal to it ; and when the girl's cheeks 
were burning, ended her exordium with 



24 G THE LONG LAXE 

' It is better to tell you, dear ; you don't 
know what people say about such things.' 

' Yes, I do,' answered Honor in a dry, 
bitter tone. ' You take care, mamma, that 
I shall.' 

A^ynes siq'hed, the sio^h of one accus- 
tomed to be misconceived, yet in patience 
possessing her soul. ' It is not I,' she said ; 
' it is the world.' 

'Then what does the world matter?' 
exclaimed the younger woman impetu- 
ously. ' If it is always ready to think ill, 
it may — for me at least.' 

' Then you had better live on a desert 
island,' returned Agnes. ' But it is unkind 
of you to resent whatever I say, Norali, 
when all these years I have tried to bring 
you up as j'our dear father would have 
wished.' The sense of Honor's inixratitude 



THE LOXG LAXE 247 

brouglit the ready tears to Mrs. Denne's 
eyes. ' I sometimes don't think we can go 
on living together, this eternal misconcep- 
tion is too hard to bear. I shall do my 
duty, but you make it a burden, not a 
pleasure.' 

She was a little frightened at her own 
words, though their bearing had been long 
since planned. She knew the girl's pride, 
knew that the idea that her absence would 
be a relief would fire it, and that the 
knowledge of the three years which must 
pass before she was twenty-one and her 
own mistress would press on Honor as a 
heavy weight. There could be but one 
severance of this chain between tlie two 
women, for which neither would be blamed, 
and it was for this Agnes had worked. 

' The victoria is here,' she said, as 



248 THE LONG LANE 

she stood by the drawing-room window ; 
' I am going to evening church,' with beau- 
tiful dignity. ' Will you come ? ' 

Honor shook her head ; she could 
almost have laughed, even with this wild, 
helpless rage in her soul, at Agnes's serene 
fulfilling of one of her pet duties, this half- 
liour service, twdce a week, which was as a 
bloom and fragrance of piety, giving Agnes 
her crowning grace of sweet and reverent 
womanhood in an unbelieving age. An- 
other sigh escaped Mrs. Denne at the girl's 
lack of any feeling akin to her own. 'I 
wish you would,' she said ; ' if you only 
knew the strength and comfort it grives — 
but one only learns it through sorrow. I 
suppose I must call for Millie Beetham, as 
I shall go on to the park afterwards, and I 
don't like being seen there alone.' 



THE LONG LANE 249 

Honor, left by herself, remained passive 
on the sofa where she was sitting, her 
hands clenched, her face troubled by a 
new idea Agnes's words had left rankling 
within her. She was a fool not to have 
thought of this before, that Agnes would 
be glad to be rid of her ; and the loneliness 
this knowledge brought was terrible. 

If Mrs. Denne would only let her go to 
Mary Eoss in Cornwall ! She was alone 
now ; her brother had died six months 
before, and Trebarva was hers ! She had 
written to Honor, while the girl was still 
abroad, saying that, if it had not been for 
her work, she could not have borne the 
sadness and solitude. A longing to see 
her child, as she still sometimes called her, 
breathed through the whole letter, but 
Honor knew that Agnes would never ''o 



2o0 • THE LONG LAXE 

far relax the tight rein by which she held 
the girl's independence under control, as to 
let her go to stay alone with Mrs. Ross. 
She had always refused to let Honor visit 
anyone, relations or friends alike, "wdthout 
lier ; with the result that every one saw Mrs. 
Denne's step-daughter from Mrs. Denne's 
own point of view. Honor had jealously 
guarded any mention of Mrs. Ross and 
Trebarva from Afjnes, feelinn^, even in the 
first young days of her admiration and 
love of Agnes, that Mrs. Ross had been 
treated ungratefully by Mr. Demie, and 
that she could not speak on the subject 
without showint^ she thoucfht her father in 
tlie wronsj. So Mrs. Denne knew nothinij 
of the one strong love which endured in 
the girl's heart, both as a memory and a 
future hope to wliich her imagination 



THE LONG LAXE 251 

turned whenever, as now, she felt friend- 
less, helpless, unhappy. 

But ah ! she needed present lielp sorely. 
As the longing for freedom and gladness — 
the gladness she felt would be so easy and 
natural, but which had never been hers 
since her father's marriage — overcame her 
with tlie passionate egoistic anger of youth, 
the large tears slowly welled up to her 
eyes. She seldom cried — but here, alone ! 
— and then the tears came. 

She felt secure, knowing that visitors 
were stringently interdicted in Agnes's ab- 
sence ; she did not know that Mrs. Denne 
had given directions that afternoon that in 
case of one favoured guest making his 
appearance, he was to be told Miss Denne 
was at home, and that Mrs. Denne would 
soon return. Agnes had scarcely reckoned 



252 THE LOXG LAXE 

on SO direct a fulfilment of her plans, but 
fortune and a young man's passion favoured 
them ; and Honor raised a startled, tear- 
stained face as the butler opened the 
drawing-room oor to admit a visitor — the 
man on whose account she had been found 
fault with. A clever, if rash game, on 
Agnes's part. 

He saw the signs of her trouble and 
took no apparent heed of them, only 
anathematised Agnes in his own mind ; and 
they talked of the dance the niglit before, 
and the other places where they had lately 
met, and what they had seen — or rather 
he talked, and Honor, confused, abashed, 
furious with herself for having been taken 
unawares, answered ' yes ' or ' no ' almost 
at random, wondering if there would be 
another battle when Agnes returned and 



THE LONG LANE 253 

found the visitor admitted during her ab- 
sence. 

Yet Miss Denne bore herself with all 
needful courtesy, and, tea appearing, tended 
to her guest's need of refreshment, with a 
due appreciation of his masculine require- 
ments in the way of sugar. She had for- 
gotten the hot dried tears on her face, 
the wildness of her hair, on which Agnes, 
had she been present, would have looked 
mild rebuke, when a word of her com- 
panion's awoke in her an incredulous 
amazed surprise. 

He had asked her to marry him. Was 
this her way of escape ? the wonder passed 
through her brain. She never thought of 
the happiness of either him or herself, but 
of freedom — the freedom for which she 
panted and which seemed before her. He 



254 THE LOXG LAXE 

was kind and would care for lier ; this wa'? 
the chief idea which possessed lier. The 
eijotism wliich was the natural result of 
her life of the last few years, bore its 
poisonous fruit now. 

And it was ijood of him to like her so 
much, thou^li wliv he should do so was a 
mystery. One did not care for persons 
simply for tlieir looks, and what more did 
he know of her to wish always to have 
her with him ? Always with him ; that 
was the meaniniy of marria<ye. 

Would she be happier so? Something 
within her cried out ' No.' She remembered 
Theo's blush, like the reflection of some 
new rose-crown on her brow ; she knew 
Love should be part of this moment that 
had come to her, but was it ? She liked this 
young man who stood before lier, his good- 



THE LONG LANE ZOO 

looking face, fervid and anxious, his eyes 
eager and troubled, as she stood irresolute. 
Then there rushed over her a flood of 
memories, her hatred of her present life, 
Agnes's wish to be free of her. ' Try me,' 
said her lover, not without a firm, manly 
intention, which made his earnestness per- 
suasive, to turn over a new leaf in his life 
if this girl trusted him, and to give her no 
reason to repent her choice ; ' you don't 
know how I love you ! ' 

The words spoke of shelter and care 
and tenderness, and as he said imploringly, 
' Will you come ? ' a sound escaped her 
lips. She heard it in a dream, and knew 
she had said, 'Yes.' 

His kiss was not a dream ; it was a 
claim of possession from which she instinc- 
tively shrunk. As she felt it, she would 



256 THE LOA'G LANE 

liave given much to withdraw from her 
word ; a vague dread of the new unknown 
world to which she had pledged herself 
passed hke a shadow over her soul ; but 
the door opened again and her lover turned 
to tell Agnes, standing on the threshold, 
that Honor had promised to be his wife. 



THE LONG LAXE Zo t 



CHAPTER XVn. 

The dazzle of the jewels that played round you 
Hid the beloved from me. 

Then you saw me 
AVith your eye only, and not with your heart, 

PlCCOLOMIU'I. 

The next six weeks were like a dream to 
Honor. Slie scarcely knew how it was 
fixed that she was to be married at the end 
of that time, and if a vague irresolute wish 
to pause and beware possessed her, it was 
frustrated scarce consciously to herself. 
A^nes had taken all arransjements into 
her own hands and carried them on, with 
swift, unresting decision. 

The girl was not unhappy ; her en- 
£fac:ement had brouo-ht to her the sem- 

VOL. I. S 



258 THE LOXG LANE 

blance if not tlie reality of more liberty 
than she had hitherto enjoyed. Her lover, 
while he rejoiced in the winning of this 
beautiful girl, who, to his mind, cut out 
all the other women he had been in 
love with, was yet careful not to risk 
losing her by any such signs of affec- 
tion as, he soon learned, her instinct 
hated. 

It would all come right when they 
were married, was his comfortable assur- 
ance when he felt Miss Denne shrink 
from any warmth of greeting or parting. 
Girls were like that, he supposed, at all 
events girls of her kind, and he wasn't 
sure they weren't better so, if you wanted 
to marry them. He understood Honor's 
nature no better than she did his, that 
of lliomme sensuel moyen, and in Honor's 



THE LONG LANE 259 

case Agnes was careful to prevent her 
attaining a more intimate knowledge of 
her future husband than was absolutely 
necessary. He was rich, good-looking 
in his own way, straight-featured, well- 
drilled, and well-dressed, kind and gen- 
erous, and very much in love — ' meiii 
Liehchen, loas wilht du melir f ' It was 
Mrs. Denne's own part, standing as she 
did, in the place of a mother to Honor, 
to acquaint hei^elf as far as was possible 
with his past life, and in this inquiry 
several anonymous and unsolicited com- 
munications aided her greatly. She showed 
a proper scorn of such epistles, and, albeit 
she profited by such hints as they con- 
tained, to carry her inquiries into fur- 
ther detail, she felt there was no need 
to trouble the life of a young girl 

S 2 



260 THE LONG LAXE 

like Honor with the facts slie had 
learnt. 

They were not very bad ; after all, all 
young men's lives turned out to be much 
tlie same, when you knew anything about 
them, and of course all this woidd end with 
Ills marriage — indeed, was ended already. 
If she were satisfied, there was no need 
Honor should know anything ; and besides, 
the girl was so self-willed and obstinate 
that nothing she could say to her could 
make any difference — Agnes only hoped 
Honor's husband would be better able to 
manage her than she had been. 

So the last days of Miss Denne's girl 
life were hurried away in the rush of the 
season, made yet more exhausting by the 
posting from shop to shop after that exi- 
gency of modern life, the trousseau, and 



THE LONG LANE 2G1 

Honor rose one morning to know tliat 
the next day would bring with it lier 
wedding. 

For the first time she felt tliat freedom 
was j^et hers and always had been hers, 
such freedom as after this day she would 
never know airain. ' AVas it too late ? ' she 
thou2"ht as she stood alone in her old 
dismal schoolroom, filled with a bitter 
wonder and surmise as to the new exist- 
ence the morrow would bring forth, when 
Agnes rushed in upon her, jealousy and 
curiosity struggling within her, but only 
maternal interest audible in her voice. 

' Honor, you are wanted everjavhere ! 
Rex is here, and Mr. Bridges, w4th the 
settlements to be signed, in the library ; and 
Jameson's person has come to see about 
the alteration in your travelling dress ; and 



262 THE LOXG LAXE 

Mr. Clay has brought your diamonds, but 
you had better settle the other matters 
first, before you see them.' 

This was really a nobly generous 
suggestion, for Mrs. Denne fully felt liow 
liard it would be for any woman to tear 
lierself away, back to the smaller affairs of 
life, from the contemplation of those stones. 
' Jameson must wait, of course,' she con- 
tinued, ' and if you run down to them in 
the library, I will go back to Mr. Clay till 
you have finished the business. Only be 
as quick as you can.' 

Honor went, as she was bidden, down- 
stairs to the room where her lover and her 
father's lawyer awaited her. She put her 
white, slender finger on the parchment, 
sianed and delivered as her act and deed, 
tlie writing which protected her against all 



THE LO>"G LANE 263 

pecuniary misdoings on the part of tlie 
man to whom she was about to entrust 
herself and her hfe, and then turned with a 
sweet, ignorant laugh at her mock impor- 
tant tone to her lover, as the lawyer folded 
up the crackling document and wished 
them all the happiness which he was sure 
would be theirs from his old knowledge 
of the bride's parents and from what he 
had heard both of her and the bride- 
(Tfroom. ' I broug;ht this settlement in 
person,' he said, turning to the young man, 
' because I wished to tell Miss Denne how 
real a pleasure this business has been to 
me, both as an old friend of her father's, 
and, as I hope to prove, of hers also.' 

' Thank you,' responded Eex cordially. 
'Please count me in too, Mr. Bridges. 
Well, good-bye. You'll be there to-morrow 



264 THE LOXG LANE 

to see us turned off? — What is it, JSTorali ? 
where are you off to now ? I haven't seen 
you yet.' 

' There is another old friend upstairs,' 
said Honor, laughing, as the door closed 
behind Mr. Brid2:es and his bao;, ' whom I 
know as little of as I do of Mr. Bridges — 
Mr. Clay, my mother's trustee, with her 
diamonds for me.' 

' I didn't know you were such a swell 
as that,' quotli her lover. ' May I come 
and see them too ? ' 

' If you like ; they are in the drawing- 
room ; ' and Honor sprang upstairs before 
him, to where Agnes was seated, in con- 
verse with Mr. Clay, a man of about sixty, 
who turned towards Honor with a keen, 
interested glance. 

'You were a child when I had to take 



THE LOXCt laxe 265 

care of these baubles of yours,' he said, as 
though he had not expected the slender 
nymph majesty of the maiden who stood 
before him. ' They will suit you now as 
well as they did your mother.' 

' I never knew any one diamonds would 
not suit,' was Agnes's comment, as Mr. 
Clay, with a touch of mock deference and 
formality, presented the heavy case and its 
key to their owner, and Eex, relieving her 
of them, placed the case on the table for 
Honor to open. 

The revelation of the clustered liglit 
within provoked a low ' By Jove I ' from 
the young man, and made Agnes silent. 
The jewels were beautiful indeed, more to 
be desired than even in her memory of 
them. 'Put them on,' said Piex, as Honor 
lifted out the lono; dazzle of the riviere ; 



266 THE LOXG LANE 

and she would have obeyed him simply, 
heedless of their effect on her morning 
dress of unbleached linen and coarse lace, 
had not the barbarism so horrified Agnes's 
instinct of dress, as to conquer even her 
jealousy, for the moment, and make her 
cry— 

' Oh, no. Honor ; not like that, for pity's 
sake.' 

There ^vas a shawl of Mrs. Denne's 
Iviny; on the sofa — rich old SiDanish lace ; 
she draped its dusky cloud about the girl's 
shoulders, so tliat the throat gleamed wdiite 
above it, and then turned to Eex, bidding 
Jiim ftisten on the necklace ; but Honor 
did this office for herself, as Agnes fastened 
the stars into her hair. 

Her future husband surveyed botli 
bride and jew^els with critical approba- 



THE LOXG LAXE 267 

tion. ' They beat Nettie Gresham's out- 
and-out,' he said, Miss Gresliam beinsf a 
•lady who appeared nightly in a burlesque 
of ' Cophetua,' as the beggar maid attired, 
in her poverty, in grey samite and a wealth 
of diamonds, which was the admiration of 
women, and the seal of her charm to men's 
eyes as being the sign of other men's recog- 
nition thereof. Honor had only beheld her 
once on the stage, and had, girl-like, taken 
her jewels to be paste ; yet the comparison 
offended some instinct within her, as it 
affronted Mr. Clay's taste. 'What does 
the fellow mean by comparing this child's 
diamonds to that woman's ? ' he thought. 
It was only Agnes who responded to the 
remark. 

'Do you think so really? There was 
a big spider Nettie Gresham wore the 



268 THE LONG LAN'E 

other night — diamonds, with a liiige opal 
for the body. Oh, it was too lovely ! ' 

' How liideous ! ' said Honor, with a 
slight movement of disgust, Mr. Clay 
thought how her words held more truth 
than she knew. He happened to know 
something of tliat spider and its hideous- 
ness : how heavy a price it had cost — a 
man's honour, a wife's betrayal ; two lives 
shattered, and a misery of which it was 
not easy to forecast the end. ' How can 
women wear such ugly things ! ' Honor 
added, strivin^:^ to loosen her own shininix 
fetter, Avitli sometliing like impatience. 

' Because they like them,' rejoined Eex. 
' I don't suppose they would care if dia- 
monds were set like a gallows, as long 
as they were diamonds. You don't seem 
to care much about yours, though,' he 



THE LOXG LANE 269 

concluded, as Honor, succeeding in her 
endeavour, loosened the necklace from her 
throat. He admired the indifference she 
had shown, albeit he scarce believed in it. 
It was out of nature for a girl to be really 
unmoved by the possession of such stones 
as these, but it was very good form to 
appear so. 

Agnes knew that Honor's carelessness 
was real, and it irritated her. She felt how 
differently she would have appreciated the 
jewels, and Miss Denne's lack of delight in 
them seemed to the elder woman to show 
a want in her character. As for Mr. Clay, 
Honor's manner at once amused him and 
quickened his interest in her. He had 
known the first Mrs. Denne well, and in the 
girl's royal indifference to the diamonds he 
discerned the promise of a like woman- 



270 THE LOXG LANE 

liness to that of her mother. ' Only,' he 
thought, 'Mrs. Deiine was fond of them, 
because they pleased her husband ; why 
hasn't her daughter the same feeling ? ' 

He wished he could have spoken to 
her, could have asked her if she were 
really as well content as she seemed. He 
knew her future husband was a good fellow 
in many ways, even if he had sown his 
wild oats, but what was there in him to 
make a mvl like this one fall in love with 
him ? Was she marrying him for money ? 
Surely not ; she would have enough of her 
own, despite her father's second marriage, 
and its result in that white-frocked young 
gentleman whom Mr. Clay had that morn- 
ing met at the front door, escorted by 
nurse and nursemaid, and being wheeled 
down the steps for his morning airing, in 



THE LOXG LAXE 271 

that doubl}* dangerous abomination, a per- 
ambulator. 

Had her step-mother talked her into 
it? No, the present Mrs, Denne was too 
dear a little woman for that. Well, the 
girl must know her own mind best ; it was 
no business of his, and she would have the 
right to resent any inquiry or warning of 
his as an impertinence. Still, through the 
day, again and again, there came back to 
him the memory of Honor Denne, as she 
stood in the mornino^ sunho-ht, the dia- 
monds crowning her hair, and defining the 
proud curve of the neck, where it up- 
reared itself from the shoulder. He re- 
called the beauty of her eyes, outshining 
the jewels, and her unconscious stateliness, 
which rather lent to the light of stones 
than borrowed aught of dignity from them. 



272 THE LONG LANE 

Then, as he recollected the look of the 
man she was about to marry bent upon 
her, the dread for her again possessed the 
old man. Does she understand what she 
is doing ? ' he thought, as he recollected 
her frank ease with her future husband — 
her absolute want of the lovely shyness 
which overlies a girl's entire trust in her 
lover, as the mist of the veil chngs over 
her on her marriage day. 

It might be all right, but when, the 
next morning, Mr. Clay watched her 
coming up the church aisle, in her white- 
ness of attire, tlie diamonds fastening her 
hair and clasping her tliroat, he noted the 
same absence of depth in her expression, 
either for happiness or unhappiness ; there 
was no fear, but also no expectancy in its 
unawed tranquillity. He chid himself as 



THE LOXG LANE 273 

a romantic old fool, who should have 
known better at his age than to indulge 
in such fancies. How the deuce would he 
have the girl look ? 

' What have you done with your 
diamonds ? ' he asked the bride, laughing, 
when, after the breakfast, she came down 
into the drawincf-room in her travelling; 
dress. ' Shall I take charge of them 
for you again, till your return from 
abroad ? ' 

' They are to be sent to tlie bankers', 
I beheve,' she said. 'Mamma and Rex 
made more fuss about their being taken 
care of than I should have thought of.' 

' But it is to you they are most impor- 
tant,' rejoined Mr. Clay. 'If you and your 
husband quarrelled ' and tlien he won- 
dered what on earth made him start such 

VOL. L T 



274 THE LONG LAXE 

an ill-omened jest on a wedding day. ' I 
mean,' lie continued, ' I don't know what 
control he may have over your property, 
but the jewels are yours and yours only, to 
do what you like with.' 

She looked perfectly indifferent to this 
announcement, and at that moment her 
husband came up to them. 

' Come, Norah, young woman, or we 
shall miss the train. — She looked well in 
her finery, didn't she ? ' he said to Mr. Clay. 
His tone struck the elder man ; it seemed 
to mark out Honor so entirely as his 
personal property, of which he had the 
right to be proud ; wdiich should be held 
dearly and taken care of, but always and 
only for his good use and pleasure. Did 
some kindred sense of this strike the girl ? 
Mr. Clay wondered. She looked up at her 



THE LONG LANE 275 

husband as tliouu'li some new forebodinu; 
cast its sliadow over her eyes. 

' Good-bye, darhng child,' murmured 
Agnes, chnging closely to Honor : ' I am 
off to Scotland the day after to-morrow, for 
I shan't be able to bear the house without 
you. We shan't meet for some time, but 
you must write very often and come down 
to Sheldon as soon as you come back, I 
shall want you so ; only I know you are 
happy, and that is all I wish.' 

' She is only a cold, heartless girl,' 
thought Mr. Clay, as he saw Honor's formal 
return of Mrs. Denne's kisses, even thouo-h 
Agnes's blue eyes were brimming over with 
tears, and her lips were tremulous with 
emotion in which she herself believed. 
' That is the mystery of this wonderful 
history.' 

T 2 



27 n THE LONG LAXE 

But just then there emerged from tlie 
dinino'-room Lionel, Honor's little half- 
brother, with the starched and snowy 
splendour of his wedding garment sadly 
marred by ' a rain and ruin ' of straw- 
berry stams, and holding a huge block 
of almond icing in either hand. 

' Say good-bye to Nor ah,' bade his 
mother. ' Oh, but take care, dearest,' to 
Honor, 'he'll ruin your gown.' 

But heedless of the w^arning, or of the 
stickiness of the child's embrace. Honor 
had knelt down on the floor and put both 
her arms closely round him. They were 
in the hall, with the carriage at the door, 
and most of the guests in the drawing-room 
above had crowded into the balcony to 
watch the departure. 

' I wis you weren't doin',' said Master 



THE LOIs^G LANE '277 

Lionel — ' no one will finis mine scap- 
boot.' 

' I will, when I come back,' his sister 
answered. ' Bab}', are you sorry Norah is 
going away ? ' the words were very low ; 
none could liear them but the child him- 
self. ' Do you love her a little ? ' 

' Yes, I loves her werry much : a 
tousand pouns.' 

Her lips clung closely to the cluid's for 
the careless words which seemed to her sad 
passionate soul the one benediction and 
farewell of her wedding day ; and Mr. Clay, 
who saw how tightly her mouth was 
compressed, how wide were her eyes in the 
effort to keep back tears, no longer thought 
her cold. 



278 THE LONG LANE 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

I know not what it says — 
Some word in some strange language that my ears 
Have never heard. — Dipstchtjs. 

A FEW days later, a girl was standing by 
tlic window of a sittino'-room in a Paris 
hotel, a wild hopeless pain in her eyes and 
face, which looked as though numb to out- 
ward impressions. Indeed, Honor felt as if 
all life were far away from lier, and she 
had nothing to do tlierewith ; the world was 
only a confused jangle of noises and glare 
of faces and scenes. How lonix ao"o was it 
since she, Honor Denne, had stood white- 
robed and veiled, lookini? forward with little 
hope, but also with little fear, to the new 



THE LONG LANE 279 

existence, than wliicli death now seemed 
less strange and terrible. 

She did not love her Inisband. The full 
sense of all that meant and must mean, to 
tlie end of her life, crushed her with tlie 
shock of a horror utterly unknown, unex- 
pected, till now when it faced her as a truth 
whereof the aspect, hour by hour and day 
by day, grew more horrible. Sometimes 
the fancy would come to her tliat it was all 
a dream, that she would wake to find herself 
Honor Denne free asfain, witli her fate still 
her own, and then the experience would 
come back to her with double force. 

No, never again ! She was her hus- 
l)and's wife, bound to his side, although 
his very voice, his step as he came up the 
stairs, his presence in the room, seemed 
likely to drive lier mad. Was it his fault 



280 THE LOXG LAXE 

or hers ? She did not know ; she was 
l)hnd and bewildered, and the stunned, 
aching feehng that she would never be her 
own again, that her liberty was lost for 
ever, would end in a passionate revulsion 
and strucrcfle within her heart, a loncfinef for 
freedom, which seemed at times to kindle 
her repulsion to her husband to fierce, 
actual hatred. 

It found little outward expression — this 
tumult within her — except in a listless dul- 
ness, for which her husband was at a loss 
to account. He was puzzled whether this 
want of interest in everything showed shy- 
ness or sullenness ; and, as it was not 
dispelled by caresses or trinkets, he 
inclined to ascribe it to the latter quality. 
He could not understand the brooding- 
depths of his wife's eyes ; but they made 



THE LONG LAXE 281 

liim uneasy ; and he Avondered if, after all, 
his marriage had been a mistake. There 
was no doubt of Honor's beauty ; not even 
the fact it was now his own possession 
depreciated its value in his eyes ; but if a 
man's wife were to be silent and sulky — or 
what looked hke it — answering ' yes ' or 
' no,' as if she were speaking in her sleep, 
and doing what he told her in the same 
fashion, it would soon be enough to make 
him shoot her or himself. 

Yet he could not complain. If she 
were really sullen, her silence and that set 
look on her face were the only signs of it. 
She did all he wished, and this puzzled her 
husband the most in her. It was as though 
she had no wishes of her own, as if wher- 
ever they went or whatever they did were 
one to her. It mi<_dit be the sweet sub- 



282 THE LOXG LANE 

missiveness of a bride certainly ; but Rex 
found it intolerable. 

Part of Honor's attraction for him at 
first had been his instinct of her strong will, 
which it would be pleasant for him at once 
to gratify and subdue to his own ; but of this 
will his wife showed no token. Cold, pas- 
sive, indifferent : it was thus she appeared, 
this wretched, untamed girl, in her lonely 
silence of pain, which none other could 
know and she herself scarce understood. 

It was hard on the j^oung man, and he 
felt it to be so ; as he also realised yet once 
more that there was no makins; out women. 
He cared for Honor in his own way, and 
would have been glad to make her happy 
had he known how to set about it, for both 
their sakes ; for a worse wet blanket to a 
fellow's temper and spirits, than his wife 



THE LONG LAXE 2 S3 

had proved during these four long and 
weary days of their stay in Paris, couldn't 
be found. Yet what the devil was he to 
do? When a woman had all she could 
want, as Honor had, or might have at 
present, how was he to enter into her 
wliims ? One thing he knew, which was 
that if these were her ways, they were 

d d unpleasant ones ; and he wished 

she had shown him them earlier in the day. 
Still he would not give in ; and in his 
persistent cheerfulness and good temper, in 
the hope that she miglit come round, he 
showed perhaps little tact, but more self- 
restraint and kindliness than Honor ever 
realised. So they dragged about Paris, 
through the usual monotonous honeymoon 
routine, dining and playgoing ; now and 
then coming across other brides and bride- 



284 THE LOXG LANE 

grooms, who looked at them sympathetic- 
ally, as partakers in their happiness. 

The second evening; their table at 
dinner was next to that of a young English 
couple, gay with that foolish, pleasant 
gladness which reminds soberer people of 
two children playing at being grown-up. 
As this other girl's joyous laugh struck 
Honor's ear, the latter's desolate, question- 
ing eyes turned in wonder towards the 
happy countenance with its smile of sweet 
content. Was she all alone, she thought, 
in her experience ? She remembered 
Theo's face, that day long ago, with a like 
expression to that of this bride near her. 
They were happy, while she — oh, tliis 
mistake, had it robbed her irretrievably — 
an instant surmise flashed throucfh her — 
not only of her freedom and gladness, but 



THE LONG LAXB 2S5 

of a posslljle liappiness slie could never 
now liope to know ! Would love, such 
as people wrote and spoke about, have 
made everything different ? Xo — with a 
quick shudder — she hated love ; she never 
wislied to hear the word ao-ain. 

This fifth eveniuii: after her weddinir, 
she was standing, as it grew dusk, staring 
as in a dull stupor, out on the parched 
lime trees, the white pavement, the tall 
houses opposite the soft sky, with its rosy 
trails of flushed cloudlets ; when her hus- 
band dashed into the room, an excitement 
in his face, at a prospect of relief from 
their worse than monotonous tcte-a-tete. 

'I say, Norah, I've just met a man I 
know, George Hatton, such a nice fellow ! 
I hope you won't mind, but I've asked him 
to dinner. If I'd only known he was here 



286 THE LOXG LA]yE 

before, I would have booked three seats 
for the Gymnase to-night and made him go 
along with us.' 

' Can't you and he go together ? ' said 
Honor, a sudden mterest in her tone, born 
of her relief at the idea of an evening all 
alone. 

' And leave you here all alone ? No, 
by Jove ! Hatton would think me worse 
than an infidel.' 

' I wish you would,' she urged ; * I have 
a bad headache, and the play is sure to 
make it worse.' 

It was no fiction, her headache, and so 
her face bore witness to her husband's eyes. 

' Poor girl ! ' he said, putting his arm 
round her and kissing her. ' If you are 
sure you'd rather not go, I will bring you 
back here after dinner, and Hatton and T 



THE LOXG LANE 287 

will just look in at the show for half an 
hour.' The prospect of freedom and 
change for a little while was no less 
welcome to him than to Honor. ' Are you 
well enough to come out to dinner? I 
w^ant you to see Hatton.' — His tone meant 
' I want Hatton to see you.' 

' Yes, quite. Shall I put on my bonnet?' 

' The one with the wheat-ears, that I 

like. It's a confounded bore for you, this 

headache ! never mind, some Boy will set 

it to rig-hts.' 

It did after a fashion ; her husband's 
belief in his prescription was confirmed, 
when he saw at dinner that after two 
glasses thereof his wife's heavy eyes had 
brightened, and her cheeks were shghtly 
flushed. He could read the admiration of 
her beauty in Hatton's gaze. 



288 THE LOXG LAXE 

' Not the sort of girl, tliougli, I sliould 
]iave thought he would marry,' was 
their guest's reflection. ' She doesn't seem 
to have anything to say, though I should 
think she had a temper of her own. 
Handsome enough to make any man mad ! 
It's odd, though, her letting him leave her 
alone before they have been a week 
married.' 

None the less, Mr. Hatton made all 
suitable acknowledgment to the young wife 
of her kindness to him, in granting her 
husband leave of absence, as they stood 
together in the vestibule of the hotel, the 
two men having escorted Honor back 
there, before going on to the theatre. 

' Good-bye, my girl,' Rex said, kissing 
her. ' Take care of yourself, and be all 
right when I come back.' 



THE LONG LANE 28 D 

' We'll walk to the shop, Hatton, if you 
don't mind,' he continued, as he and his 
friend stepped out again into the summer 
evening ; and, his companion assenting, he 
struck a light, kindled his own cigarette, 
and proffered it to Hatton. Honor's bride- 
groom was one of those men who never 
are able to embark on any confidence, or 
any discussion of importance, unless sup- 
ported by tobacco. ' I'm deuced glad to 
have met you, old boy,' he said, after a 

pause. 'I'm in a d d fix, and you 

are nearly the only fellow I could have 
mentioned it to, as you know all about 
it.' 

Hatton had a pretty clear idea of what 
his friend was driving at. To-night's was 
by no means the first little dinner at which 
Rex had been host, and Hatton had made 

VOL. I. U 



290 THE LOXG LAXE 

the third. Truth to tell, during tliis even- 
ing he had often remembered the joviahty 
of these past entertainments, as compared 
with the dreariness of the present meal ; so 
he answered — 

' Anything to do with the past busi- 
ness ? I thought you told me you had put 
an end to it all and squared matters with 
that woman ? ' 

' Squared matters ? So I did, damn her ! 
and pretty heavily too, when I all but 
knew how she had been going on with 
Dalrymple, behind my back. However, I 
settled more on her than she had any right 
to expect ; she made a confounded fuss 
about it, but I broke off the whole affair 
the day after I was engaged to Norah — and 
as Addle knew it was no go and I'd made 



THE LONG LAXE 291 

up my mind, she grabbed the money and 
was quiet, and a fortnight after, I saw her 
in the park with Dalrymple.' 

' Well ? ' 

' Well, I thought it was all straight, and 
put the whole affair out of my head, when 
to-day I get a letter. It seems Dalrymple 
is broke, and so she wants to come on 
me. Threatens to tell my wife and I don't 
know what else, the cat ! Where's the 
letter? Hansj it! I must have left it at 
home, in my other pocket ; I hope Norah 
won't get hold of it, that's all.' 

' I'd let her alone,' was Hatton's brief 
and pregnant counsel when his friend 
questioned him as to what he had better 
do, in regard to the obnoxious missive ; and 
Eex receiving his advice in gloomy silence, 



292 THE LONG LANE 

tlie two walked on together and turned 
into the theatre, without more being 
said. 

Meanwhile, Honor had climbed up the 
hotel staircase to her rooms, as though she 
were mounting to a prison. Her husband's 
name for her rang in her ears. ' His 
girl ! ' — oh, she loathed the words ! — his^ 
no lonijer her own. 

The weight of her whole future pressed 
upon her tlien, not as it would come in 
reality, hour by hour and day by day, but 
with the burden of all its years crushing 
lier, as beneath an unendurable load. She 
seldom took wine, and the champagne 
to-night had strangely excited hei". She 
walked up and down the sitting-room, 
like some wild bright-eyed desperate 
animal, till at last the words broke from 



THE LOXG LANE 298 

lier : ' I can't bear it ! I can't ! What can 
Ido?' 

Her own face, as she met it in the 
i^lass, cast back on her her sense of shame. 
Then a thought overpowered her, making 
her breath come quick with its intensity ; 
she stood as fixed to the spot, one idea 
taking definite form in her mind in one 
word — escape. 

She was free for the next tAvo hours ; 
before her husband returned she miglit 
be far from liim, out of liis power. Would 
he follow her, fetch her back ? He should 
not ! The defiance seemed to change the 
fancy into a feasibility, though for a minute 
she stopped, startled, irresolute, frightened 
at herself. 

Then, as if she wished to seal her 
decision, she turned into the bedroom and 



294 THE LONG LANE 

began mechanically and hastily to pack 
lier travelling bag. She was glad now she 
had had her own way in not bringing a 
maid with her to Paris. Had she enough 
money ? She looked in her purse and found 
an English ten-pound note and some gold 
- — yes, that would do. 

She clian2;ed her smart bonnet for a 
small travelling hat, and shrouded her 
summer dress with a long soft black 
mantle, under which she could carry her 
bag unobserved, and then she lingered for 
a moment, not as repenting tliis step she 
had determined on, or as realising its full 
import, only with a hesitation she herself 
could not have defined. An impulse as 
unchecked as her leadins; towards fho;ht 
had been, made her write a note, neither 



THE LONG LANE 295 

defence, nor plea, nor explanation, only 
these few words: 

' I am very unhappy. It is all my 
fault, but I can't stay. Good-bye.' 

She turned and left the room, and 
walked quickly along the corridor and 
down the wide staircase. In the vesti- 
bule there were only the clerk and hall 
porter and two waiters. They did not 
notice her particularly, and, supposing her 
husband to be smoking in the balcony 
of their sitting-room, only jxit her down 
as an Englishwoman in whom the eccen- 
tricities of her nation were carried to the 
extent of solitary evening rambles. Cer- 
tainly the two waiters did comment to each 
other on the husband's want of gallantry 
in not escorting so charming a young wife. 



296 THE LOXG LANE 

' Think you they have quarrelled F ' 
asked Jean of Francois. 

The latter shrugged his shoulders. ' He 
is complaisant truly, that husband ! ' was 
all his remark. 



END OF THE FIRST VOLUME. 



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